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Mrs.   J.s.  Hart 









LONDON:    T.    C.    &   E.    C.   JACK 
16    HENRIETTA    STREET,    W.C. 




Printed  by  BALLANTYNE,  HANSON  &•  Co. 
At  the  Ballantyne  Press,  Edinburgh 




OF    NEW    YORK 



Page  108,  line  23,  for  "Francis"  read  "Frederick." 


As  we,  living  in  more  tranquil  days,  recede  from 
:he  eighteenth  century  we  recede  also  from  the 
historical  judgments  passed  upon  its  leading  events 
by  the  critics  of  the  nineteenth.  We  overlook, 
as  from  an  eminence,  the  rugged  plain  traversed 
by  our  race,  and  reflect  wonderingly  on  the  ignor- 
ance of  fundamental  conditions  and  natural  ten- 
dencies which  brought  disaster  to  that  eighteenth 
century  army.  They  mistook  hillocks  for  moun- 

lins,  in  tiny  creeks  they  greeted  mighty  rivers, 
and  abandoning  humanity's  broad  high-road,  lost 
themselves  in  the  thickets  of  controversy,  moral, 
social,  political ;  of  insane  altruism,  of  ethical  de- 
lirium. They  sought  Utopia,  and  lo,  were  enmeshed 
in  a  jungle.  What  touching  trust  humanity  reposed 
in  those  deluded  and  self-appointed  forerunners,  of 
intellectual  vision  so  distorted,  whose  counsels  led 
anarchy  and  death !  Rousseau,  Priestley,  Paine, 
Stanhope,  Marat,  Jefferson,  Fox !  what  scouts  for 
this  poor  blind  Samson  of  a  century  as  it  went 
blundering  on  to  meet  its  destiny  so  sardonic  and 

dthal  so  merited  at  Marengo ! 

We  feel — perhaps  it  is  but  the  self-flattery  of 
youth — we  feel  ourselves  wiser  to-day.  From  the 
vantage  ground  of  the  twentieth  century  we  believe 



that  those  restless  centurions  who  led  Humanity 
away  from  Kingship,  from  Social  Order,  from 
Reverence,  from  Tradition,  from  Symbols,  from 
Ornament,  were  in  error  far  deeper  than  the  error 
of  the  Tories,  Loyalists,  Feudalists,  Ritualists,  whose 
importunities  were  so  diametrically  opposed.  Civili- 
sation finds  that  it  need  not  smash  the  bridges  in 
its  rear.  The  enemy  is  in  front — this  is  the  lesson 
we  have  learnt.  In  the  virtues,  the  attributes,  the 
ideals  of  the  past  we  discern  only  our  friends. 

So,  in  this  purged  and  uplifted  temper  Rousseau, 
Priestley,  Paine,  and  Jefferson,  we  may  admire  and — 
forgive.  But  in  what  vein  shall  we  judge  those 
living  critics  of  the  conflict  of  yesterday  who  applaud 
the  ambuscades  into  which  our  forefathers  were  led, 
who  still  deplore  their  triumphant  escapes,  and  who 
yet  continue  to  mistake  the  benevolence  of  Heaven 
for  austere  calamity?  The  teachings  of  this  school 
of  historians  pervade  our  seminaries,  blurring  the 
lens  of  history,  which  constant  rubbing  had  else 
made  so  bright. 

Take  the  cardinal  facts  of  the  American  Re- 
volution as  they  seem  to  us.  The  first  we  hold 
to  be  that  an  Imperial  schism  was  inevitable — 
all  omens  heralded  it  from  the  date  of  Walpole's 
resignation  in  1741.  The  second  fact  is,  that  this 
tremendous  and  fateful  schism  has  not  only  been 
beneficial  to  humanity  at  large,  but  also  to  the 
British  Empire:  it  marked  the  real  foundation  of 
modern  Canada,  and  a  wider,  freer,  wholesomer  Im- 
perial policy.  Clear  enough,  clear  as  crystal,  do  these 
truths  seem  to  us :  yet  how  can  we  reconcile  with 



them  the  theories  of  the  historians  from  Massey 
to  Bancroft  and  Trevelyan  ?  Is  it  not  frequently 
stated  that  the  separation  of  the  American  Colonies 
was  owing  to  this  or  to  that  secondary  cause, 
to  this  or  that  ulterior  circumstance,  and  chiefly 
and  supremely  to  the  "  obstinacy  "  of  King  George 
III.,  whose  whole  energy  was  directed  from  the 
beginning  against  injustice,  who  was  opposed  to 
disruption,  and  who  carried  half  (and  not  the  least 
intelligent  half)  of  the  American  people  with  him 
to  the  end  of  a  protracted  civil  war  ?  "  We  do 
not  rebel  against  the  King,"  said  Franklin,  "  but 
against  the  pretensions  of  the  British  Parliament." 

We  who  see  and  realise  truths  so  salient  marvel 
much  to  hear  the  American  Separation  spoken 
of  with  regret.  Conscious  of  the  great  lesson  it 
has  taught  us,  of  the  boon  it  has  conferred  upon 
mankind,  with  the  New  Empire  confronting  us  so 
much  vaster  and  more  splendid  than  the  old,  and, 
let  us  add,  to  the  full  as  loyal,  we  might  have 
hoped  that  the  eighteenth  century  regret  would  have 
been  buried,  beyond  all  chance  of  resurrection,  seven 
seas  deep. 

Historians  with  these  perverted  views  necessarily 
are  led  to  a  perversion  of  the  characters  and  deeds 
of  the  public  men  implicated  in  the  American 
schism.  Of  all  the  perversions,  of  all  the  distor- 
tions of  which  these  writers  are  guilty,  by  far 
the  profoundest  concerns  the  character  of  George 
the  Third.  This  great  man  has  long  been  deluged 
from  the  W  hig  fountains  of  malice.  At  a  critical  point 

the  conflict  the  more  astute   and  unscrupulous 



American  insurgents  saw  in  George  their  chief 
danger,  and  he  became  forthwith  a  target  for  their 
weapons.  Such  were  not  without  expert  instruc- 
tion. Wilkes,  Francis,  and  Tom  Paine  in  England 
were  the  exemplars  of  Jefferson  in  penning  the 
Declaration  of  Independence. 

America — it  cannot  be  too  often  emphasised- 
had  no  real  quarrel  with  the  King;  therefore  the 
King,  whose  honesty,  benevolence,  and  virtue  so  im- 
pressed Franklin,  must  be  pilloried  as  the  incarnation 
of  tyranny  and  oppression — the  object  of  their  dis- 
trust and  anger.  As  such  George  the  Third  figures 
in  the  famous  Declaration.  But  all  the  people  were 
not  always  deceived.  Washington,  Hamilton,  and 
Jay  spoke  of  the  King  with  respect.  John  Adams 
has  given  us  a  narration  of  a  personal  interview 
with  George  which  is  one  of  the  best  tributes  to 
the  King's  qualities  and  motives  extant.  Just  as 
the  people  were  not  all  deceived,  so  it  was  the 
passionate  loyalty  of  a  minority,  not  to  the  Mother 
Country,  not  to  the  British  Legislature,  but  to  King 
George  the  Third,  that  kept  them  steadfast,  and  sent 
them  forth  at  the  close  of  the  war  into  the  northern 
wilderness  to  found  there  a  new  British  realm.  This 
fealty  sustained  them  in  all  their  vicissitudes,  and 
the  knowledge  that  the  chief  of  their  race  held 
them  dear  brought  to  many  all  the  solace  and  reward 
they  were  destined  ever  to  know. 

The  question  which  I  have  set  myself  in  these 
pages  to  answer  may  be  resolved  thus:  Was  the 
confidence  of  the  United  Empire  Loyalists  mis- 
placed ?  Were  their  vows  bestowed  and  their  blood 


spilt  for  an  unworthy  prince  ?  We  marvel  at  the 
sacrifice  made  by  stout  hearts  to  Charles  I.  and  to 
his  grandchildren  the  Pretenders ;  we  weep  when 
we  think  of  the  hearts  broken  for  Louis  XV.,  of 
the  blood  and  treasure  and  tears  lavished  upon 
that  shallow  nature. 

George  the  Third  of  England  was  a  man — strong, 
earnest,  virile,  brave,  loyal,  kind-hearted,  religious. 
He  was  a  plain  liver,  a  hard  worker,  and  devoted 
to  his  duty.  If  he  could  not,  owing  to  the  feeble- 
ness of  his  generals  and  the  party  schisms  at  home, 
crush  the  revolt,  he  at  least  stemmed  the  tide  of 
republican  success  in  America.  He  prevented  the 
continent  from  falling  into  the  hands  of  the  dema- 
gogues and  the  slowly  disillusioned  heirs  of  dema- 

This  is  true :  it  is  much :  but  it  is  not  all.  Has 
the  day  not  come  when  it  can  be  seen  clearly 
that  an  even  greater  task  than  this  he  achieved  in 
Europe  ?  Is  it  of  no  significance  in  a  luxurious 
age  that  the  King  was  simple,  in  an  age  of  un- 
rest that  he  was  steadfast,  in  an  age  of  libertinism 
that  he  was  virtuous,  in  an  age  of  pretence  that 
he  was  sterling  ?  This  it  was,  and  the  fact  that 
the  people  of  Britain  learnt  at  last  to  reverence 
their  ruler — this,  and  not  the  writings  of  Burke 
or  the  policy  of  Pitt,  breasted  the  tide  of  the 
French  Revolution.  Betwreen  George  the  Third 
and  the  "  patriots " — Chatham,  Fox,  Sheridan,  and 
Francis — let  posterity  judge  which  was  the  sincerest 
lover  of  his  country,  which  did  most  by  public  and 
>rivate  example  for  his  countrymen. 



After  all,  it  is  as  our  King,  as  the  wise  and  able 
and  virtuous  sovereign  in  whose  name  the  British 
forefathers  of  Canada  went  forth  into  the  wilder- 
ness, and  for  whom  they  endured  contumely  and 
sacrifices,  that  Canadians  should  regard  the  figure 
of  George.  From  this  standpoint  I  have  regarded 
him  in  these  pages. 

Democracy  has,  with  many,  come  to  have  an 
evil  sound,  as  the  resort  of  the  unkempt  in  thought 
as  well  as  in  body  and  estate,  but  if  a  true  and 
decent  democracy  has  preserved  any  admiration  for 
honesty,  vigour,  sincerity,  and  consistency  it  may 
yet  find  something  to  admire  in  George  the  Third 
as  monarch  of  a  free  people,  and  even  when  divested 
of  the  ornaments  and  symbols  of  the  kingly  office 
it  scrutinises  him  as  man  and  as  statesman. 

UhJuly  1907. 




I.  THE  YOUNG  PRINCE  .......         1 

II.  THE  PRINCE'S  ACCESSION   .         .         .         .         .         .31 

III.  CHATHAM  RETIRES  FROM  THE  HELM  .         .         .         .51 

IV.  MARRIAGE  AND  CORONATION      .         .         .         .         .74 

V.  WlLKES   AND    THE    "  NORTH    BRITON*'              .             .             .100 

VI.  THE  TYRANNY  OF  GRENVILLE    .         .         .         .         .122 


VIII.  CHATHAM  JOINS  THE  KING        .         .         .         .         .163 

IX.  THE  KING  IN  PRIVATE  LIFE     .         .         .         .         .187 

X.  DOMESTIC  TRIALS       .......     202 

XI.  NORTH  BECOMES  PRIME  MINUTER      ....     223 

XII.  FACTION  AT  HOME  AND  ABROAD        .          .          .               247 


XIV.  THE  DECLARATION  OF  INDEPENDENCE         .         .         .313 
XV.  CONTINUATION  OF  THE  STRUGGLE       ....     341 


LVII.  YOUNG  PITT  IN  POWER     ......     403 


XIX.  "FROM  THE  ASSASSIN'S  BLOW"          .         .         .         .461 







BIBLIOGRAPHY       .  ... 

INDEX  .... 






GEORGE  III.  IN  HIS   CORONATION  ROBES  (Photogravure)   Frontispiece 
From  the  Painting  by  ALLAN  RAMSAY,  1760 

AVSCOUGH  AND  HIS  ROYAL  PUPILS       .         .         .    To  face  page      6 
From  the  Picture  in  the  National  Portrait  Gallery 

FREDERICK,  PRINCE  OF  WALES    .         .          .         .          „  ,,10 

From  the  Portrait  by  DANDRIDGE 

HANNAH  LIGHTFOOT  (MRS.   AXFORD)  „  ,,       30 

From  the  Portrait  by  REYNOLDS  at  Knole  Park 

JOHN,  THIRD  EARL  OF  BUTE  „  ,,44 

From  the  Portrait  by  RAMSAY 


SPEECH,  1760 „  ,,56 

EARL  OF  CHATHAM      .......  ,,70 

From  the  Portrait  by  R.  BROMPTON 

SIR  FRANCIS  DASHWOOD      ......  ,,90 

From  the  Portrait  by  NATHANIEL  DANCE 

"HE  ROYAL  DUPE      .......  „     100 

A  Bute  and  Princess  Dowager  Caricature,  1762 

IRL  OF  SANDWICH     .          .         .          .          .          .          „  „     116 

From  the  Portrait  by  ZOFFANY 

[ARQUIS  OF  ROCKINGHAM    .          .         .          .         .          „  ,,146 

>RD  NORTH „  „     178 

From  the  Portrait  by  DANCE  in  the  Bodleian  Library 


WILLIAM  PITT,  1766  .         .         .         .         .         „  „    168 



GEORGE  III.  AND  HIS  FAMILY  (1770)  .    To  face  page   192 

AUGUSTA,   PRINCESS  OF  WALES     .  „  „    220 

From  the  Portrait  by  ZlNCKE 

CHARLES  JAMES  Fox  ......  „     270 

From  the  Portrait  by  REYNOLDS 

GEORGE  III.,  ^TAT.  44 „  „    354 

From  the  Portrait  by  ZOFFANY  at  Buckingham  Palace 

WILLIAM  PITT „  „    370 

From  the  Portrait  by  HOPPNEK 

LORD  SHELBURNE  (MARQUIS  OF  LANSDOWNE)        .         „  „    384 

From  the  Portrait  by  REYNOLDS 


From  the  Portrait  by  HOPPNBB 

GEORGE,  PRINCE  OF  WALES  „  ,,    406 

From  the  Portrait  by  GAINSBOROUGH 

QUEEN  CHARLOTTE      .......  „    422 

From  the  Portrait  by  GAINSBOROUGH 

GEORGE  III.,  ^TAT.  60 „  „    478 

GEORGE  III.,  J^TAT.  63 „  „    484 

Prom  the  Portrait  by  COBBOULD 

GEORGE  ROSE     ........  „     522 

From  the  Portrait  by  BEECHEY 

GEORGE  III.,  ^ETAT.  70     .          .          .          .  „  „    538 

GEORGE  III.,  $/TAT.  82 „  „    558 

1766.  ...  570 





IN  the  third  decade  of  the  eighteenth  century  there 
appeared  throughout  Europe  the  symptoms  of  that 
dire  social  fever  for  which  only  the  French  theorists 
and  political  philosophers  were  long  afterwards  able 
to  prescribe.  In  Great  Britain  discontent  was  only 
too  manifest.  We  may  not  accept  all  the  gloomy 
testimony  of  the  memoir  and  letter-writers,  the 
preachers  and  tractarians  of  the  time,  but  a  case 
is,  nevertheless,  clearly  established. 

Religion  had  sunk  into  a  mere  show,  and  that 
Church,  whose  influence  had  been  so  important  in 
William  III.'s  day — forty  years  before — was  now 
almost  divested  of  political  significance.  As  to  its 
influence  on  the  people,  the  observant  Montesquieu, 

tf  who  visited  England  at  this  time,  declared  "  that  if 
one  talks  of  religion  every  one  laughs."  Most 
English  statesmen  of  the  day  were  infidels.  Im- 

•i  morality,  even  in  its  grossest  form,  had  almost 
ceased  to  offend.  To  the  ignorance  and  brutality  of 
the  lower  classes  all  authorities  bear  witness.  The 
increase  of  commerce  and  population  in  the  towns 




had  been  unaccompanied  by  any  religious  or  educa- 
tional advancement,  and  the  inhabitants  of  the  rural 
parishes  were  not  merely  benighted,  but  half  starved. 
In  many  whole  parishes  there  was  not  a  single 
Bible  or  book  of  any  sort,  and  the  people  subsisted 
entirely  upon  coarse  bread  and  occasional  bacon. 
If  the  squirearchy  kept  them  cowed  in  the  country, 
it  was  otherwise  in  the  towns,  where  violence 
flourished  almost  unchecked.  Although  bloody 
laws  inflicted  capital  punishment  for  the  most 
trifling  offences,  and  pilferers  were  hanged  in  public 
by  dozens,  yet  so  desperate  were  the  lower  classes 
that  they  callously  braved  death  in  order  to  rob, 
pillage,  rape,  and  burn.  Frequent  mobs  broke  open 
the  gaols  and  terrorised  whole  communities.  Their 
ferocity  was  greatly  increased  by  the  introduction 
of  gin,  which  was  sold  so  cheap  that  a  man  could 
get  drunk  for  the  price  of  a  small  loaf. 

What  was  true  of  the  religious  and  moral  was 
true  of  the  political  world.  Walpole's  tranquil  day 
was  over.  Opposition  was  offered  to  every  measure 
of  administration.  The  Excise  Bill  of  1733  had 
plunged  the  country  into  rioting,  and  Walpole  was 
forced  to  withdraw  the  very  same  measure  which 
afterwards  became  law,  and  continues  on  the  statute- 
book  to  this  day.  Anti-ministerialists  grouped  itself 
into  two  factions  of  self-styled  "Patriots."  In  1738 
the  preposterous  tale  of  Jenkins's  Ear  inflamed 
the  masses  to  demand  war  against  Spain.  Any 
brand  would  have  served  the  purpose,  when  public 
opinion  was  so  combustible.  The  heir-apparent  to 
the  throne  sided  with  the  Patriots  against  Walpole, 


and  that  astute  Minister,  who  had  found  peace  his 
best  policy,  but  had  offered  the  people  no  glories  in 
exchange  for  war,  reluctantly  gave  way. 

The  antagonism  subsisting  between  St.  James's 
Palace  and  Leicester  House  deepened.  Of  the 
intrigues  and  petty  conspiracies  which  occupied  the 
Court  party  and  that  of  the  followers  of  the  Prince 
of  Wales,  the  reader  will  scarce  need  to  be  reminded. 

Something  less  than  justice,  it  seems  to  us,  has 
been  done  to  the  character  of  Frederick,  Prince  of 
Wales.  He  has  been  called  shallow  and  a  dilettante, 
but  at  least  he  was  perspicacious  enough  to  see  the 
defects  of  the  regime.  He  realised  that  he  lived  in  a 
society  from  which  the  great  factor  of  sincerity  had 
been  withdrawn.  It  was  an  engine  side-tracked  and 
pistonless,  wasting  its  steam  in  impotent  sibilation. 
The  example  of  the  Court  of  his  father,  George  II., 
although  not  as  profligate  as  that  of  Louis  XV.,  on 
the  other  side  of  the  Channel,  was  yet  vulgar  and 
uninspiring.  How,  indeed,  could  loyalty  thrive  ? 

Loyalty  requires  to  be  nourished  by  grace,  out- 
ward or  inward,  and  George  II.  no  more  than 
George  I.  could  nourish  it.  There  was  no  poetry- 
nothing  even  respectable — in  the  monarchy;  there 
was  nothing  save  a  traditional  veneration  for  the 
kingly  institution  to  allure  men's  minds,  hearts,  or 
sympathies  to  the  monarch.  Albeit  if  no  young 
squire's  eye  flashed,  or  his  bosom  heaved,  or  his  voice 
broke  into  melodious  roundelays  at  the  toast  of  the 
phlegmatic,  commonplace  Hanoverian  who  sat  on 
the  British  throne,  yet  he  had  at  least  two  good 
e  reasons  for  keeping  him  in  that  posture.  There 



was  the  dread  of  the  Stuarts,  and  distrust  and  dislike 
of  the  Scots.  At  any  moment  the  Pretender  might 
land  in  Britain.  England  might  not  be  jealous  of 
her  neighbours  or  of  her  virtue,  but  as  the  "pre- 
dominant partner  "  she  was  jealous  of  her  hegemony. 
It  is  fit  thus  to  emphasise  the  state  of  the 
time  in  order  that  we  may  have  a  background  for 
our  central  figure,  that  we  may  see  what  were  the 
forces  and  conditions  which,  beginning  at  his  birth, 
and  rendered  inveterate  during  his  minority,  the 
official  head  of  society  had  during  his  long  reign  to 

In  a  brick  mansion  differing  but  little  from  its 
neighbours,  in  the  south-eastern  corner  of  St.  James's 
Square,  London,  George  William  Frederick,  sixth 
in  descent  from  James  I.,  and  afterwards  King  of 
Great  Britain  and  Ireland,  was  born  on  the  4th  June 

His  mother,  Augusta,  Princess  of  Wales,  daughter 
of  the  Duke  of  Saxe-Gotha,  had  so  little  expected  her 
labour,  that  a  few  hours  previously  she  had  been 
strolling  in  St.  James's  Park  with  the  Prince,  her 
husband.  The  fortunes  of  this  royal  pair  shared 
the  confusion  and  instability  of  the  times.  Less  than 
a  twelvemonth  after  their  marriage  Frederick  had 
quarrelled  openly  with  his  father,  George  II.,  who 
took  the  very  violent,  but  on  the  whole  not  un- 
reasonable, measure  of  turning  the  couple  out  of 
his  palace.  Norfolk  House,  unpalatial  as  it  was, 
afforded  them  temporary  refuge,  and  here  into  such 

1  24th  May,  O.S. 


an  England  as  we  have  briefly  attempted  to  describe 
the  infant  prince  was  prematurely  ushered.1 

Augusta,  who  had  already  given  birth  to  a 
daughter,  afterwards  Duchess  of  Brunswick,  was  a 
woman  of  strong  character,  pious,  and  with  an  un- 
compromising horror  of  laxity  and  licentiousness. 
Proud  and  reserved,  she  had  few  intimates  ;  her  chief 
joy  in  life  was  in  the  bosom  of  her  family,  while 
others  of  high  rank  found  theirs  in  the  diversion  of 
masquerades,  gambling,  and  scandalmongering.  At 
Leicester  House  or  Cliveden  the  utmost  propriety 
was  observed.  "  The  Prince's  family,"  wrote  Lady 
iervey  in  1748,  "is  an  example  of  innocent  and 
cheerful  amusement.  All  this  last  summer  they 
>layed  abroad,  and  now  in  the  winter  in  a  large 
>om  they  divert  themselves  at  baseball,  a  play  all 
rho  are  or  have  been  schoolboys  are  well  acquainted 
with.  The  ladies  as  well  as  gentlemen  join  in  this 
amusement,  and  the  latter  return  the  compliment  in 
the  evening  by  playing  for  an  hour  at  the  old  and 

1  Concerning  George's  birthplace,  the  present  Duke  of  Norfolk 
mrteously  writes:  "The  house  in  which  George  III.  was  born 
old  Norfolk  House,  which  stands  behind  the  present  house  in 
>t.  James's  Square.  The  back  part  of  Norfolk  House  was  pulled 
down  for  the  making  of  Waterloo  Place,  but  the  front  face  was 
preserved,  and  looks  upon  the  small  garden  behind  the  present 
Norfolk  House.  I  do  not  know  in  what  room  George  III.  was 
born.  There  is  a  large  room  with  a  zoned  painted  ceiling  called 
the  Painted  Chamber,  which  I  have  heard  stated  was  the  room  in 
question.  I  think  this  is  extremely  improbable,  as  it  was  clearly 
the  largest  Drawing  Room,  or  State  Room,  in  the  house.  It  has 
since  been  broken  up  into  smaller  rooms  with  partitions,  and  it  is 
probable  that  the  room  in  which  George  III.  was  born  may 
lave  been  among  those  pulled  down." 



innocent  game  of  push-pin."  When  a  frivolous 
French  marquis  called  at  Leicester  House,  expect- 
ing the  diversions  of  faro  and  scandal,  he  was  asked 
to  choose  between  "  rounders "  and  a  reading  from 

Prince  George,  with  his  brothers  and  sisters,  seems 
to  have  passed  his  childhood  in  simple,  pleasant 
fashion,  similar  to  that  of  many  noblemen's  sons 
of  our  own  day.  He  was  hardly  seven  when  Dr. 
Francis  Ayscough,  afterwards  Dean  of  Bristol,  was 
appointed  preceptor  to  him  and  his  brothers.  "  I 
thank  God,'1  writes  Ayscough  to  a  friend  in  February 
1745,  "I  have  one  great  encouragement  to  quicken 
me  in  my  duty,  which  is,  the  good  disposition  of  the 
children  entrusted  to  me.  As  an  instance  of  it,  I 
must  tell  you  that  Prince  George,  to  his  honour  and 
my  shame,  has  learned  several  pages  in  your  little 
book  of  verses  without  any  directions  from  me. 
And  I  must  say  of  all  the  children — for  they  are 
all  committed  to  my  care — that  they  are  as  con- 
formable and  as  capable  of  receiving  instruction  as 
any  I  ever  yet  met  with.  How  unpardonable  then 
should  I  be  in  the  sight  of  God  and  man  if  I 
neglected  my  part  towards  them !  All  I  can  now 
say  is  that  no  care  or  diligence  shall  be  wanting 
in  me,  and  I  beg  the  prayer  of  you  and  every 
honest  man  for  the  Divine  blessing  on  my 
endeavours."  1 

Ayscough,  however,  was,  unhappily,  kept  too 
busy  as  Clerk  of  the  Closet  to  Frederick  to  attend 

1  Life  and  Times  of  Countess  Huntingdon,  vol.  i.  pp.  175-6. 


as  fully  to  his  duties  as  he  perhaps  desired,  or  his 
friends  expected.  Accordingly  a  sub-preceptor,  in  the 
person  of  George  Scott,  was  found,  a  man  to  whose 
honour,  temperance,  and  sweet  disposition  his  friends 
were  ready  to  testify.1 

At  ten  years  of  age  George  seems  to  have  struck 
all  those  who  met  him  as  being  a  good  sample  of 
the  juvenile  Englishman — fair,  ruddy  cheeked,  and 
sturdy,  added  to  a  most  amiable  disposition.  During 
the  holidays  Prince  Frederick's  fondness  for  private 
theatricals,  and  his  belief  that  they  were  useful  in 
teaching  declamation  and  deportment  to  children, 
led  him  to  encourage  several  of  these  at  Leicester 
House.  The  celebrated  actor  Quin  was  sent  for  to 
superintend  rehearsals.  Quin  spared  no  pains  to 
make  these  juvenile  theatricals  a  success,  and,  by 
Frederick's  directions,  paid  special  attention  to  the 
elocution  of  little  Prince  George.  He  found  an  apt 
pupil,  and  George  never  forgot  the  lessons  he  re- 
ceived from  Quin,  nor  was  the  actor  likely  to  forget 
at  he  had  coached  his  future  monarch.  "  Ay," 
id  Quin,  a  dozen  years  later,  when  George  III.'s 
rst  speech  from  the  throne  had  excited  general 
tpproval  for  the  grace  and  clarity  with  which  it 
ras  delivered,  "it  was  I  who  taught  the  boy  to 

Addison's  "  Cato  "  was  staged  at  Leicester  House 
>n  the  4th  January  1749,  the  part  of  Portius  being 
ilayed  by  Prince  George.  Prince  Edward,  his  junior 
>y  a  year,  Princess  Augusta,  and  Princess  Elizabeth 

1  Rose's  Diaries,  vol.  ii.  p.  188,  note. 


also   took  part  in  the  performance.     The  full   cast 
was  as  follows  : — 

Portius  .  .  .  Prince  George. 

Juba  ....  Prince  Edward. 

Cato  ....  Master  Nugent. 

Sempronius     .  .  .  Master  Evelyn. 

Lucius  .  .  .  Master  Montague. 

Decius  .  .  .  Lord  Milsington. 

Syphax  .  .  .  Master  North. 

Marcus  .  .  .  Master  Madden. 

Marcia  .  .  •  Princess  Augusta. 

Lucia  .  .  .  Princess  Elizabeth. 

"  Master  North,"  it  may  be  noted,  was  Lord 
North's  son,  afterwards  first  Minister  of  the  Crown. 
Prince  George  and  he  had  first  met  at  Eton.  On 
this  occasion  "  Cato "  was  preceded  by  a  prologue, 
spoken  by  George,  the  authorship  of  which  we  are 
inclined  to  ascribe  to  a  talented  young  nobleman, 
one  of  Frederick's  friends,  of  whom  we  shall  hear 
much  in  the  course  of  this  narrative,  the  Earl  of  Bute. 

Although  of  little  worth  as  poetry,  yet  the  senti- 
ments they  contained,  and  the  character  of  the  one 
who  uttered  them,  make  the  stanzas  of  exceeding 
interest : — 

"  To  speak  with  freedom,  dignity,  and  ease, 
To  learn  those  arts,  which  may  hereafter  please, 
Wise  authors  say — let  youth,  in  earliest  age, 
Rehearse  the  poet's  labours  on  the  stage. 
Nay  more  !  a  nobler  end  is  still  behind, 
The  poet's  labours  elevate  the  mind ; 
Teach  our  young  hearts  with  gen'rous  fire  to  burn, 
And  feel  the  virtuous  sentiments  we  learn, 



T'  attain  these  glorious  ends,  what  play  so  fit, 
As  that  where  all  the  powers  of  human  wit 
Combine  to  dignify  great  Cato's  name, 
To  deck  his  tomb,  and  consecrate  his  fame  ? 
Where  Liberty — Oh  name  for  ever  dear ! 
Breathes  forth  in  every  line,  and  bids  us  fear 
Nor  pain  nor  death,  to  guard  our  sacred  laws, 
But  bravely  perish  in  our  country's  cause, 
Patriots  indeed !  nor  why  that  honest  name, 
Through  every  time  and  station  still  the  same, 
Should  this  superior  to  my  years  be  thought, 
Know,  "'tis  the  first  great  lesson  I  was  taught. 
What,  though  a  boy !  it  may  with  pride  be  said, 
A  boy  in  England  born,  in  England  bred ; 
Where  freedom  well  becomes  the  earliest  state, 
For  there  the  love  of  liberty's  innate. 
Yet  more — before  my  eyes  those  heroes  stand 
Whom  the  great  William  brought  to  bless  this  land, 
To  guard  with  pious  care  that  genVous  plan, 
Of  power  well  bounded,  which  he  first  began. 
But  while  my  great  forefathers  fire  my  mind, 
The  friends,  the  joy,  the  glory  of  mankind; 
Can  I  forget  that  there  is  one  more  dear  ? 
But  he  is  present — and  I  must  forbear." 1 

We  can  picture  the  smiling  approbation  of 
Frederick  as  he  acknowledged  this  tribute  from 
his  eldest-born.  Such  sentiments  would  not  easily 
be  forgotten  by  such  a  boy  as  George.  The  masque, 
too,  of  "Alfred,"  in  which  "Rule  Britannia"  was 
sung  for  the  first  time,  had  been  performed  at 
Cliveden  a  year  or  two  before.  On  another  occasion 
we  find  Rowe's  tragedy  of  "  Lady  Jane  Grey  "  being 
acted  by  the  royal  children. 

1  Lady  Hervey,  Memoirs. 


In  his  thirteenth  year  Prince  George,  together 
with  his  brother  Edward,  was  put  in  charge  of  a 
governor,  Lord  North.  There  still  exists  a  memo- 
randum for  Lord  North's  use  in  the  handwriting  of 
Frederick  which  evinces  his  careful  attention  to  the 
education  of  his  sons.1 

"  The  Hours  for  the  two  Eldest  Princes. 

"  To  get  up  at  7  o'clock. 

"  At  8  to  read  with  Mr.  Scot  till  9,  and  he  to  stay  with  'em  till 
the  Doctor  comes. 

"The  Doctor  to  stay  from  9  till  Eleven. 

"  From  Eleven  till  Twelve,  Mr.  Fung. 

(l  From  Twelve  to  half  an  hour  past  Twelve,  Ruperti ;  but 
Mr.  Fung  to  remain  there. 

"  Then  to  their  Play  hour  till  3  o'clock. 

"  At  3  Dinner. 

"  Three  times  a  week,  at  half  an  hour  past  four,  Denoyer  comes. 

"  At  5,  Mr.  Fung  till  half  an  hour  past  6. 

"  At  half  an  hour  past  6  till  8,  Mr.  Scot. 

"  At  8,  Supper. 

"  Between  9  and  10  in  Bed. 

"  On  Sundays,  Prayers  exactly  at  half  an  hour  past  9  above 
stairs.  Then  the  two  Eldest  Princes,  and  the  two  Eldest  Prin- 
cesses, are  to  go  to  Prince  George's  apartment,  to  be  instructed  by 
Dr.  Ayscough  in  the  Principles  of  Religion  till  11  o'clock." 

With  such  a  course  of  Latin,  music,  fencing, 
dancing,  history  and  mathematics,  it  could  hardly 
be  supposed  that  there  could  be  much  time  for 
idleness.  Yet  the  royal  children  were  probably 
happy  enough  until  the  sudden  death  of  their  father, 
the  Prince  of  Wales,  altered  the  family  fortunes. 
By  that  event,  which  happened  20th  March  1751, 

1  It  bears  the  date  "  Clifden,  Oct.  the  14th,  1750." 

(From  the  Portrait  by  Dandridge) 


the  Court  opposition  was  dealt  a  serious,  almost  a 
fatal  blow.  The  time-servers  and  opportunists  were 
plunged  into  confusion.  Many  hastened  to  attempt 
their  rehabilitation  at  Court.  The  breath  had  scarcely 
left  the  Prince's  body,  his  weeping  widow  had  not 
yet  risen  from  her  knees,  ere  the  Prince's  "faction," 
as  it  was  called,  melted  away,  and  only  a  few  tried 
and  trusted  spirits  now  dared  to  do  even  so  much 
as  to  pay  common  tribute  to  his  remains.  Prince 
George,  his  son,  was  not  yet  fourteen  years  of  age,  the 
old  King  was  lusty  and  vigorous,  good  for  at  least 
twenty  years  of  life.  The  homely  proverb  of  "  A 
bird  in  the  hand  is  worth  two  in  a  bush"  is  the 
eternal  motto  of  Court  sycophants. 

Exactly  a  month  after  his  father's  death  George 
created  Prince  of  Wales  and  Earl  of  Chester, 
and   soon   afterwards   the   dreaded    separation   from 
his  mother  took  place,  and  he  went  to  reside  with 
the   King  for   a  time   at   Hampton    Court.      Thus 
severed   from  those   he  loved   at   the  beginning  of 
his  fifteenth  year,   George   entered   on  a  humiliat- 
ing and  unhappy  youth.     His  boyhood  of  freedom 
and  felicity,  under  the  loving  eye  of  a  tender  and 
dulgent  parent,  was  now  a  closed  chapter.      He 
ery  quickly  tasted  the  bitter  fruit  of  dependence 
n  those  he  did  not  and  could  not  bring  himself  to 
ve,  as  well  as  that  far   bitterer  fruit  which  must 
ever  form  the  diet  of  princes.     He  found   himself 
regarded  as  a  puppet  in  the  hands  of  Court  faction, 
e  found  that  he  was  to  be  a  cipher,  that  he  was 
have   no  thought   or  volition  of  his   own,  that 
is  every  act   and  opinion  to  be  harmless  must  be 

1 1 


colourless.  George  was  not  born  for  such  a  rol 
His  native  sturdiness,  his  acute  understanding,  r 
belled  against  those  who  were  seeking  to  enmes 
him  as  in  a  net,  to  stifle  his  intellect.  He  very| 
quickly  discovered  that  in  spite  of  the  formal  j 
respect  which  the  King  paid  his  mother,  the  real! 
feeling  which  he  entertained  towards  the  Princess! 
Dowager,  as  well  as  towards  those  who  still  clung  | 
to  her,  was  dislike  and  ill-will.  In  the  palace! 
George  was  daily  witness  of  the  jealousy  and  dis-l 
trust  with  which  his  mother  was  regarded.  He; 
perceived  that  all  who  wished  to  be  acceptable  at; 
Court  were  forced  to  disavow  all  connection  with' 
Leicester  Fields.  More  than  once  his  cheek  flamed1 
with  anger  at  hearing  some  disrespectful  allusion! 
to  his  mother,  but  he  never  forgot  himself  or  his 
position,  and  to  surmount  these  trials  proved  ex- 
cellent discipline  for  the  lad.  He  soon  came  to 
welcome  any  neglect  which  was  shown  him,  and  to 
consider  those  in  whose  immediate  charge  he  wasj 
placed  with  suspicion. 

Nor  was  this  suspicion  misplaced,  inasmuch  as 
it  was  the  intention  of  the  Pelham  Ministry,  now 
in  power,  to  procure  an  influence  over  the  mind 
of  the  youthful  heir-apparent.  To  this  end  Lord 
North,  the  father  of  the  future  Premier,  to  whom 
George  had  become  attached,  was  dismissed,  and 
Simon  Lord  Harcourt  appointed  in  his  stead.  This 
nobleman  is  described  by  Horace  Walpole  as  a 
"  civil,  sheepish  peer,"  more  in  want  of  a  governor 
himself  than  to  be  a  governor  of  others.  Harcourt 
was  not  under  any  misapprehension  as  to  what 


was  expected  of  him.  "  He  is  a  cipher,"  observed 
Lord  Mansfield  to  the  Bishop  of  Norwich ;  "he 
must  be  a  cipher,  and  was  put  in  to  be  a  cipher." 

Ayscough  was  in  like  manner  removed.  His 
successor  was  Thomas  Hayter,  Bishop  of  Norwich, 
a  man  of  considerable  learning  and  sense,  but  too 
obviously  a  creature  of  the  Pelham  Ministry. 

The  two  persons,  however,  with  whom  the 
young  Prince  came  in  daily  touch  were  the  sub- 
governor,  Andrew  Stone,  and  his  sub-preceptor, 
George  Scott.  The  former  was  private  secretary 
to  the  Duke  of  Newcastle,  and  an  excellent  scholar. 
Something  was  said  about  removing  Scott,  but 
Augusta  took  alarm,  and  the  Prince  himself  threat- 
ened to  burn  his  books  if  Scott  were  taken  away. 
It  may  have  been  on  this  occasion  at  Hampton 
Court  that  George  II.,  unaccustomed  to  any  ex- 
hibition of  spirit  amongst  his  family  and  entourage, 
actually  attempted  physical  chastisement  of  his 
grandson.  More  than  sixty  years  later  the  Duke 
of  Sussex,  one  of  the  sons  of  George  III.,  passing 
through  the  apartments  of  Hampton  Court,  observed, 
"  I  wonder  in  which  of  these  rooms  it  was  that 
George  II.  struck  my  father.  The  blow  so  dis- 
gusted him  with  the  place  that  he  could  never 
afterwards  think  of  it  as  a  residence." 

It  was  in  the  nature  of  things  that  these  four 
men  entrusted  with  the  spiritual  and  intellectual 
guidance  of  the  Prince  should  themselves  be  little 
guided  by  any  spirit  of  harmony.  Unseemly  bicker- 
ings soon  occurred,  Lord  Harcourt  and  Bishop 
Hayter  indulging  in  mutual  charges.  Stone  and 



Scott  followed  the  example  of  their  superiors.     The 
one  thing  which  the  Whigs  dreaded  was  a  Jacobite 
and  Stone  was  suddenly  discovered  by  the  Bishop 
to  be  a  Jacobite.     The  sub-preceptor  was  chargec 
by  the  Bishop  with  insulting  language  and  persona 
violence.     As  for  the  Princess,  she  instantly  cham 
pioned  the  cause  of  the  sub-governor  and  the  sub 
preceptor.     Formal  charges  were  instituted,  and  an 
appeal  was  made  to  the  King.     It  was  alleged  that 
Stone  had  repeatedly  drunk  the  health  of  the  Pre 
tender,  and  had  aided  and  abetted  Jacobitical  impro 
prieties.     The  governor  and  preceptor  threatened  to 
resign  unless  Scott,  Stone,  and  Cresset,  the  Princess' 
secretary,  were  dismissed.     The  King  was  sagaciou 
enough  not  to  become  the  dupe  of  these  wretchec 
factions.     He  ordered  a  committee  to  inquire  into 
the   truth   of  the    charges.      It   appeared   that   the 
Prince  had  happened  one  day  to  pass  through  a  room 
where  Pere  d'Orleans'  "  Revolutions  d'Angleterre, 
translated   by  Archdeacon  E chard,  was  lying  on  a 
table.     He  took  the  volume  with  him  to  his  chamber, 
and  became  deeply  interested  in  the  worthy  father's 
defence   of  the   reign   and   measures   of  James    II. 
This   incident  having  attracted  the  attention   of  a 
nobleman  at  Court,  he  instantly  reported  it  to  Lord 
Harcourt,  who  ascertained  that  other  works,  which 
were  anathema   to   the   Whigs,    such   as    Ramsay's 
"  Travels  of  Cyrus,"  Sir  Robert  Filmer's  "  Patriarch," 
Pere  Perefixe's  "  History  of  Henry  IV.,"  had  also  been 
perused  by  the  heir-apparent.     Although  the  Whigs 
were   shocked   by  these   scandalous   disclosures,  yet 
the  charges  were  declared  to  be  baseless.     Even  if 


a  few  suspicious  volumes  had  by  accident  reached 
the  Prince's  hands,  there  was  no  ground  for  sup- 
posing that  he  had  been  induced  by  any  designing 
Jacobite  to  read  them.  Harcourt  and  the  Bishop 

The  new  governor  was  the  Earl  of  Waldegrave, 
who  was  proud  to  be  known  under  the  title  of  "  a 
man  of  the  world."     George  III.  himself  long  after- 
wards furnished  a  less  flattering  description :  "  Lord 
Waldegrave,"  he  said,  "  was  a  depraved,  worthless 
ian."     The  new  preceptor  was  the  Bishop  of  Peter- 
>rough,  Dr.   John  Thomas,  who  was  believed  by 
>me  to  possess  Tory  predilections. 

Even  thornier  than  before  the  royal  lad  found  his 
ithway  to  knowledge.     His  own  bent  lay  in  the 
iirection  of  steadiness,   sobriety,  and  virtue ;   Lord 
raldegrave's  principles  were  all  in  a  contrary  direc- 
ion.     "  I   found   his   Royal   Highness,"   he   writes, 
uncommonly  full  of  princely  prejudices  contracted 
the  nursery,  and  improved  by  Bedchamber  women 
id  Pages  of  the  Back  Stairs."     Under  these  cir- 
mmstances   it   was    not   wonderful   that    the   boy's 
lind   did   not   show   any   striking    advance   during 
ie  next  three  years.     He  was  said  to  be  indolent, 
>ut  we  remember  that  the  same  charge  was  brought 
dnst  Sheridan,  Byron,  and  Wellington  at  a  similar 
iriod  of  their  lives.     It  is  very  likely  that,  debarred 
from  the  mental  nourishment  he  desired,  he  refused 
what  those  around  him  proffered. 

Dodington,  afterwards  Lord  Melcombe,  a  personal 
friend  of  the  Princess,  occasionally  ventured  to  inter- 
>gate  her  concerning  her  eldest  son. 


Thus,  when  George  was  sixteen,  we  find 
Augusta  lamenting  "the  consuming  state  of  the 
nation."  "  It  was  of  infinite  consequence,"  she  said, 
"how  a  young  reign  began,  and  it  made  her  very 
uneasy.  She  was  highly  sensible  how  necessary  it 
was  that  the  Prince  should  keep  company  with 
men :  she  well  knew  that  women  could  not  inform 
him,  but  if  it  was  in  her  power  absolutely,  to  whom 
could  she  address  him  ?  What  company  could  she 
wish  him  to  keep  ?  What  friendships  desire  he 
should  contract  ?  Such  was  the  universal  profligacy, 
such  the  character  and  conduct  of  the  young  people 
of  distinction,  that  she  was  really  afraid  to  have 
them  near  her  children.  She  should  even  be  in 
more  pain  for  her  daughters,  than  for  her  sons,  if 
they  were  private  persons  ;  for  the  behaviour  of  the 
women  was  indecent,  low,  and  much  against  their 
own  interest,  by  making  themselves  so  very  cheap." l 

"  George,"  she  said,  "  seemed  to  have  a  very 
tender  regard  for  the  memory  of  his  father,"  which 
she  encouraged  as  much  as  she  could.  "  When  they 
behaved  wrong,  or  idly  (as  children  will  do),  to  any 
that  belonged  to  the  late  Prince,  and  who  are,  now, 
about  her,  she  always  asked  them,  how  they  thought 
their  father  would  have  liked  to  see  them  behave 
so  to  anybody  that  belonged  to  him,  and  whom 
he  valued ;  and  that  they  ought  to  have  the  more 
kindness  for  them,  because  they  had  lost  their  friend 
and  protector,  who  was  theirs  also ;  and  she  said 
that  she  found  it  made  a  proper  impression  upon 

1  Dodington's  Diary,  p.  325. 


them."  Dodington  begged  that  she  would  cultivate 
and  improve  the  personal  influence,  which  her  many 
virtues,  as  well  as  natural  affection,  gave  her  over 
the  Prince.  "I  was  sure  that,  from  her  influence, 
and  the  settled  opinion  of  her  prudence  with  all 
mankind,  all  the  disinterested  and  sensible  amongst 
us  hoped  for  a  happy  settlement  of  the  new  reign. 
I  did  not  mean  authoritatively  and  during  a 
legal  minority,  but  during  the  very  young  part  of 
the  King's  life,  and  till  time  and  inclination  had 
brought  him  thoroughly  to  weigh  and  understand 
what  the  government  of  a  great  country  was.  She 
expressed  herself  civilly  for  the  regard  I  testified 
for  her,  and  said  she  could  have  nothing  so  much 
at  heart  as  to  see  him  do  well,  and  make  the  nation 

In  a  knowledge  of  society  and  mankind,  George 
at  sixteen  years  of  age  may  have  been  deficient. 
But  to  enlarge  the  circle  of  her  son's  acquaintances 
in  the  society  of  that  age  was  a  responsibility  the 
Princess  declined  to  undertake.  The  Prince,  she 
said  again,  if  not  quick  was  at  least  intelligent, 
and  though  his  mind  had  a  tendency  to  seriousness, 
he  was  both  good-natured  and  cheerful.2 

It  is  undoubtedly  owing  to  the  strict  regime 
pursued  in  his  youth  that  George  owed  his  virtuous 
disposition  and  his  strong  religious  principles.  Many 
years  afterwards  his  youngest  brother,  the  Duke  of 
Gloucester,  told  Hannah  More  that  the  pure  and 
sinless  home  of  his  boyhood  was  ever  a  sweet 

1   Dodington's  Diary,  p.  174.  2  Ibid.,  p.  356. 

B  17 


memory  to  him.  "No  boys,"  he  remarked,  "were 
ever  brought  up  in  a  greater  ignorance  of  evil  than 
the  King  and  myself."  "We  retained,"  he  added, 
"all  our  native  innocence."  It  may  be  that  in 
another  age  greater  latitude  might  have  wrought 
little  influence  either  on  the  Prince's  character  or 
upon  his  future  subjects,  but  in  this  case  Britain 
had,  as  we  shall  see,  great  reason  to  congratulate 
herself  that  the  early  youth  of  her  monarch  was  un- 
spotted from  the  world,  and  that  amidst  the  levity 
and  corruption  of  the  times  George  III.  was  neither 
light  nor  corrupt. 

George  was  never  a  prig.  He  had  a  fund 
of  natural  resolution  and  manliness  of  character 
to  sustain  him  in  his  seclusion.  Gradually  the 
suspicions  which  had  been  directed  against  the 
Princess  were  removed  from  the  public  mind,  and 
the  efforts  made  to  separate  mother  and  son  were 

Under  this  new  regime  an  old  friend  reap- 
peared on  the  scene,  and  began  by  degrees  to  take 
part  in  the  counsels  of  the  Princess  and  her  son. 
This  was  John  Stuart,  third  Earl  of  Bute.  Bute 
was  a  singularly  brilliant  and  engaging  man.  His 
frequent  guest,  M.  Dutens's,  testimony  is  worth 
giving :  "  I  never  knew,"  he  wrote,  "  a  man  with 
whom  one  could  be  so  long  tete-a-tete  without  being 
tired,  as  Lord  Bute.  His  knowledge  was  so  exten- 
sive, and  consequently  his  conversation  so  varied, 
that  one  thought  oneself  in  the  company  of  several 
persons,  with  the  advantage  of  being  sure  of  an 
even  temper  in  a  man  whose  goodness,  politeness, 


and  attention  were  never  wanting  towards  those 
who  lived  with  him." 

Even  Lord  Chesterfield,  no  friend  to  the  Earl, 
writes  :  "  Bute  had  honour,  honesty,  and  good  inten- 
tions." But  Bute,  handsome  in  person,  cultivated  in 
mind,  honourable  in  conduct,  had  three  serious  dis- 
qualifications— he  was  a  Scotsman,  he  was  no  party 
man,  and  he  loved  his  country.  The  prejudice 
against  the  Scots  ran  high  at  that  time  in  England. 
The  '45  rebellion  was  fresh  in  men's  minds.  Since 
the  death  of  Frederick,  Bute  had  retired  to  his  native 
land.  His  one  ardent  desire  was  to  bring  about  a 
better  feeling,  a  true  union  between  the  two  halves 
of  the  kingdom.  He  felt  deeply  the  humiliation  to 
which  his  countrymen  were  subjected.  He  was  sick 
of  the  taunts  continually  levelled  against  their 
poverty,  their  disloyalty,  their  supposed  national 
traits.  He  knew  that  North  Britain  was  as  rich  in 
genius,  in  intelligence,  in  courage  and  manliness,  as 
was  South  Britain.  He  patronised  Hume,  Smollett, 
Home,  Macpherson.  Yet  there  was  nothing  narrow- 
minded  about  Bute.  He  also  loved  and  honoured 
England.  In  a  word,  Bute  was  a  British  Nationalist. 

Between  Bute  and  the  Princess  Dowager  it  was 
rumoured  that  an  improper  connection  existed.  This 
rumour,  which  was  afterwards  given  popular  credence, 
was  absolutely  devoid  of  foundation.  We  may  con- 
fidently disregard  all  the  base  suspicion  and  scur- 
rility of  the  day.  No  eminent  person's  reputation 
was  safe,  royalty  least  of  all.  Were  we  to  credit 
such  writers  as  Horace  Walpole,  indecency,  hypoc- 
risy, and  duplicity  pervaded  every  great  household  in 



the  land.  The  Princess  Dowager  was  a  lonely 
woman,  of  strong  moral  and  religious  principles. 
She  perceived  in  Lord  Bute  a  sympathising,  in- 
telligent, forceful  friend.  That  the  Princess  had 
long  sought  for  such  a  counsellor  we  may  gather 
from  her  conversation  with  Lord  Melcombe.  Mel- 
combe  himself  was  of  too  unstable,  intriguing  a 
disposition  ever  to  commend  himself  entirely  to 
the  Princess.  Bute  had  been  known  for  some 
years  to  her ;  he  had  been  a  friend  of  her  husband's, 
and  she  recognised  his  sterling  worth. 

George  himself  had  already  conceived  for  Lord 
Bute  a  strong  affection.  He  welcomed  his  return  to 
Court  with  pleasure.  Although  at  first  Bute  did  not 
hold  any  nominal  post  in  the  Prince's  service,  yet, 
at  the  Princess  Dowager's  request,  he  took  part  in 
his  education. 

Gradually  Bute's  good  qualities  and  gentle, 
refined  manners  rendered  him  indispensable  at 
Leicester  House,  and  finally,  although  with  no  very 
hearty  concurrence  on  the  part  of  the  King,  he  be- 
came governor  to  the  heir-apparent.  George  now 
began  under  his  friendly  auspices  to  learn  to  some 
purpose,  and  his  happiness  and  spirits  were  restored) 
to  him.  Bute  undoubtedly  took  his  office  seriously. 
He  was  a  sincere  believer  in  the  monarchical  prin- 
ciple, and  beyond  all  question  held  that  when  the 
royal  prerogatives  are  hedged  about  by  a  wall  of  aristo 
cratical  privileges,  so  far  from  the  people  gaining) 
they  are  the  losers  from  this  limitation  of  the  powei! 
of  the  Crown. 

From  him  the  Prince  derived  his  first  knowledge! 



of  the  British  Constitution.  Bute's  friendship  with 
Blackstone  enabled  him  to  possess  a  copy  of  the 
famous  "Commentaries"  before  they  had  been  sent 
to  press.  This  work  Bute  actually  read  to  the  Prince, 
and  discussed  it  with  him. 

Monarchy  under  George  II.  was  in  reality  a 
dogeship.  In  a  striking  passage  on  the  functions  of 
a  king  of  England,  Mr.  Lecky  observes  that  "  The 
great  majority  of  men  in  political  matters  are 
governed  neither  by  reason  nor  by  knowledge,  but 
by  the  associations  of  the  imagination,  and  for  such 
men  loyalty  is  the  first  and  natural  form  of  patriot- 
ism. In  the  thrill  of  common  emotion  that  passes 
through  the  nation  when  some  great  sorrow  or  some 
great  happiness  befalls  the  reigning  dynasty,  they 
learn  to  recognise  themselves  as  members  of  a  single 
family.  The  throne  is  to  them  the  symbol  of 
national  unity,  the  chief  object  of  patriotic  interest 
and  emotion.  It  strikes  their  imaginations.  It 
elicits  their  enthusiasm.  It  is  the  one  rallying  cry 
they  will  answer  and  understand.  Tens  of  thousands 
of  men  who  are  entirely  indifferent  to  party  distinc- 
tions and  to  ministerial  changes,  who  are  too  ignor- 
ant or  too  occupied  to  care  for  any  great  political 
question,  and  to  whom  government  rarely  appears  in 
any  other  light  than  as  a  machinery  for  taxing  them, 
regard  the  monarch  with  a  feeling  of  romantic  de- 
votion, and  are  capable  of  great  efforts  of  self- 
sacrifice  in  his  cause.  The  circle  of  political  feeling 
is  thus  extended.  The  sum  of  enthusiasm  upon 
which  the  nation  in  critical  times  can  count  is  largely 
increased,  and,  however  much  speculative  critics  may 



disparage  the  form  which  it  assumes,  practical  states- 
men will  not  disdain  any  of  the  tributary  rills  that 
swell  the  great  tide  of  patriotism.  Even  in  the  case 
of  more  educated  men  it  is  extremely  conducive  to 
the  strength,  unity,  and  purity  of  the  national  senti- 
ment that  the  supreme  ruler  of  the  nation  should  be 
above  the  animosities  of  party,  and  that  his  presence 
at  the  head  of  affairs  should  not  be  the  result  of  the 
defeat  of  one  section  of  his  people." l 

Nothing  is  clearer  that  to  a  young  prince  in 
immanence  of  kingship  some  knowledge  should  be 
imparted  of  his  functions  and  privileges.  These 
functions  and  privileges  Blackstone  sedulously  en- 
deavours to  explain.  "  The  King  of  England,"  he 
says,  "  is  not  only  the  chief,  but  properly  the  sole 
magistrate  of  the  nation,  all  others  acting  by  com- 
mission from  and  in  due  subordination  to  him.  He 
may  reject  what  bills,  may  make  what  treaties,  .... 
may  pardon  what  offences  he  pleases,  unless  where 
the  Constitution  hath  expressly,  or  by  evident  conse- 
quence, laid  down  some  exception  or  boundary."  He 
has  the  sole  power  of  regulating  fleets  and  armies,  of 
manning  all  forts  and  other  places  of  strength  within 
the  realm,  of  making  war  and  peace,  of  conferring 
honours,  offices,  and  privileges.  He  governs  the 
kingdom;  statesmen,  who  administer  affairs,  are 
simply  his  ministers. 

George  viewed  the  role  he  would  one  day  fill 
with  great  seriousness,  esteeming  it  a  mighty  public 
trust.  He  had  no  taste  for  pomp.  Power,  except 

1  England  in  the  Eighteenth  Century,  vol.  iii.  p.  6. 


in  the  interests  of  his  people,  was  without  attraction 
for  him ;  he  despised  vainglory.  He  could  not  be 
blind  to  the  fact,  even  unaided  by  the  judgment  of 
Bute,  that  the  royal  power  in  England  had  under- 
gone a  decline,  and  that  no  class  of  the  King's  sub- 
jects was  the  better  for  that  decline.  The  Whigs 
were  gradually  crushing  out  kingship. 

"  Surely,"  says  Lord  Brougham,  with  a  burst  of 
liberality  strangely  in  dissonance  with  the  tenor  of 
his  extreme  Whig  principles,  "  surely  the  meaning  of 
having  a  sovereign  is,  that  his  voice  should  be  heard 
and  his  influence  felt  in  the  administration  of  public 
affairs.  Unless  the  whole  notion  of  a  mixed  monarchy 
and  a  balance  of  three  Powers  is  a  mere  fiction  and  a 
dream,  the  royal  portion  of  the  composition  must  be 
allowed  some  power." l 

The  limitations  to  which  the  English  sovereign 
had  become  subject  went  far  beyond  the  letter  of 
the  law.  As  Mr.  Lecky  points  out,  even  after  the 
Revolution  William  III.  had  been  a  great  political 
power  ;  and  Anne,  though  a  weak  and  foolish  woman, 
had  exercised  no  small  amount  of  personal  influence. 
Another  such  monarch  as  George  II.  and  Britain 
would  be  an  oligarchy,  open  and  avowed. 

The  vast  body  of  Britons  were  still  ready  to 
exclaim,  with  Oliver  Goldsmith,  "  I  am  then  for,  and 
would  die  for  monarchy,  sacred  monarchy;  for  if 
there  be  anything  sacred  amongst  men,  it  must  be  the 
anointed  sovereign  of  his  people ;  and  every  diminu- 
ion  of  his  power,  in  war  or  in  peace,  is  an  infringe- 

1  Statesmen  of  the  Time  of  George  ILL 



ment  upon  the  real  liberties  of  the  subject.  ...  I 
have  known  many  of  these  pretended  champions  for 
liberty  in  my  time,  yet  do  I  not  remember  one  that 
was  not  in  his  heart  and  in  his  family  a  tyrant." l 

Bute's  Tory  views  being  advertised,  the  AVhig 
Ministry  once  more  took  alarm.  They  were  terribly 
afraid  that  the  mind  of  the  young  Prince  would 
become  "  tainted  "  with  Tory  principles.  "  The  Prin- 
cess Dowager  and  Lord  Bute,"  wrote  Lord  Chester- 
field, "agreed  to  keep  the  Prince  entirely  to 
themselves.  None  but  their  immediate  and  lowest 
creatures  were  ever  allowed  to  approach  him,  except- 
ing at  his  levees,  when  none  are  seen  as  they  are,  he 
saw  no  one  and  none  saw  him." 

All  previous  attempts  to  detach  the  Prince 
from  his  mother  having  failed,  a  new  ruse  was 
projected,  the  credit  for  which  is  attributed  to  the 
King  himself.  "  A  bigoted  nature  and  chaste,"  as 
Walpole  puts  it,  "  what  influence  might  not  a 
youthful  bride  attain  over  the  Prince."  Shortly 
before  the  King  had,  during  a  visit  to  his  dominion 
of  Hanover,  received  in  frequent  audience  the  two 
clever,  pretty  daughters  of  the  Duchess  of  Bruns- 
wick-Wolfenbiittel.  Of  the  eldest  of  these  the 
monarch  expressed  the  gallant  regret  that  the  dis- 
crepancy in  their  years  prevented  his  offering  himself 
in  marriage,  but  if  the  young  Princess  could  not 
contract  an  alliance  with  the  reigning  monarch,  she 
was  in  every  way  suitable  to  wed  the  heir-apparent. 

Albeit,  to  this  scheme  came  decided   opposition 

l  The  Vicar  of  Wakefield,  p.  91. 


on  the  part  of  the  Princess  Dowager.  She  thought 
George  too  young  for  matrimony.  Nor  were  these 
the  only  considerations.  She  was  the  mother,  as  she 
explained  to  Melcombe,  of  eight  other  children,  for 
whom  she  trusted  the  King  would  make  some  pro- 
vision before  he  disposed  of  her  eldest  son  in  marriage. 
Moreover,  George  might  himself  become  the  father 
of  a  numerous  family,  whose  interests  he  would 
naturally  entertain  in  preference  to  those  of  his 
brothers  and  sisters.  "  The  King  has  not  conde- 
scended to  speak  to  me  on  the  subject,"  she  said, 
"  but  should  he  do  so,  I  shall  certainly  tell  him  how 
ill  I  take  it."  Not  that  the  Prince  was  averse  from 
the  attractions  of  the  fair  sex.  On  the  contrary, 
he  possessed  a  warmth  of  temperament  rendering 
him  most  susceptible  to  female  fascinations.  He 
was  indeed  at  this  very  time  filled  with  a  passionate 
attachment  for  a  beautiful  girl  whose  acquaintance 
he  had  made  in  a  romantic  manner.  But  of  this 
more  hereafter.  Enough  that  his  mother  had  no 
difficulty  in  persuading  her  son  to  share  her  views 
with  regard  to  the  young  Princess  who  had  so 
caught  the  fancy  of  her  royal  father-in-law.  "  Her 
ladyship's  boy,"  to  quote  Walpole,  "  declares  violently 
against  being  be-Wolfenbuttel-ed,  a  word  I  do  not 

>retend  to  understand,  as  it  is  not  in  Johnson's  new 

lictionary."  * 

Annoyed  and  disappointed,  George  II.  abandoned 

lis     ingenious     plan.     "  If    I    were    twenty    years 
younger,"  he  said  of  the  young  Princess  to  Walde- 

1  Letters,  vol.  ii.  p.  475. 



grave,  "  she  should  never  have  been  refused  by  the 
Prince  of  Wales,  and  should  at  once  be  Queen  of 
England."  1 

There  was  still  another  plan  by  which  the  King 
and  his  Ministers  could  effect  their  pious  purpose. 
George  was  to  come  of  age  on  the  4th  June  1756. 
He  would  have  completed  his  eighteenth  year,  and 
the  formation  of  a  separate  establishment  accord- 
ing to  custom  followed.  His  royal  grandfather 
graciously  consented  to  settle  on  the  Prince  an 
income  of  £40,000  a  year  and  apartments  in  St. 
James's  and  Kensington  Palaces.  To  Waldegrave 
was  entrusted  the  mission  of  advising  the  Prince  of 
these  generous  dispensations,  which  they  made  to 
appear  as  if  conditional  on  his  removal  from  Leicester 
House  and  his  mother. 

George,  while  grateful  for  the  royal  benevolence, 
was  clear  and  resolute  on  one  point :  he  would  not 
leave  his  mother.  "  A  separation  at  that  time,"  he 
told  Waldegrave,  "  would  entail  great  affliction 
upon  both.  He  earnestly  hoped  the  King  might 
be  graciously  pleased  to  reconsider  his  proposition." 
Eventually  the  Whig  oligarchy  found  all  their 
plans  for  alienating  Prince  George  and  his  mother 
utterly  foiled,  and  short  of  having  recourse  to  violent 
measures  they  were  now  finally  helpless. 

In  the  list  of  appointments  to  his  own  personal 
household  George  resolved  that  his  friend,  Lord 
Bute,  should  be  made  Groom  of  the  Stole.  The 
old  King  protested  that  he  did  not  know  or  esteem 

1  Waldegrave's  Memoirs,  p.  40. 


Lord  Bute,  he  was  not  one  of  his  friends,  he  was 
not  one  of  his  courtiers.  Certainly  Bute  was  not 
one  of  that  band  of  sycophants  and  place-hunters 
of  whom  George  II.  was  daily  surrounded.  Never- 
theless, here  again  the  Prince  carried  his  point. 

We  now  see  George  at  eighteen  established  on 
his  own  account,  and  already  being  slowly  drawn 
into  the  toils  of  party  ;  or  rather,  without  him- 
self being  a  contributory  factor,  his  name  and 
royal  influence  were  employed  to  serve  the  ends 
of  Opposition.  The  enemies  of  the  Newcastle 
party  and  of  the  Ministry  of  Henry  Fox,  first  Lord 
Holland,  met  almost  daily  at  the  levees  at  Leicester 
House.  Pitt,  Temple,  and  the  Grenvilles  were 
frequently  in  attendance.  But  it  was  far  from  the 
Prince's  intention  to  support  any  faction.  He  had 
become  imbued,  largely  through  the  teachings  of 
Lord  Bute,  not  merely  with  the  love  of  country — 
which  is  an  empty  platitude  on  the  lips  of  politicians 
of  both  complexions,  those  who  build  up  and  those 
who  cast  down — but  with  an  active  desire  to  further 
the  best  interests  of  all.  His  serious  aims  did  not 
prevent  him  from  being  an  honest,  healthy,  whole- 
some youth,  fond  of  exercise,  of  hunting  and  out- 
door games,  and  as  great  a  contrast  to  the  affected, 
sensual,  narrow-minded  youths  of  that  day  as  can 
well  be  conceived.  "  I  had  frequent  opportunities," 
writes  Mrs.  Calderwood,  "  of  seeing  George  Scott, 
and  asking  him  questions  about  the  Prince  of  Wales. 
He  says  he  is  a  lad  of  very  good  principles,  good- 
natured  and  extremely  honest ;  he  has  no  heroic 
strain,  but  loves  peace,  and  has  no  turn  for  extrava- 



gance ;  modest,  and  has  no  tendency  to  vice,  and 
has  as  yet  very  virtuous  principles  ;  has  the  greatest 
temptation  to  gallant  with  the  ladies,  who  lay  them- 
selves out  in  the  most  shameful  manner  to  draw  him, 
but  to  no  purpose.  He  says  if  he  were  not  what  he 
is  they  would  not  mind  him.  Prince  Edward  is  of 
a  more  amorous  complexion,  but  no  court  is  paid  to 
him  because  he  has  so  little  chance  to  be  king." 

In  the  galleries  of  Knole  Park,  in  Kent,  the  seat 
of  the  Sackville  family,  is  a  portrait  described  in  the 
catalogue  as  "  Mrs.  Axford."  The  picture  recalls  an 
almost  forgotten  romance  in  the  life  of  George  III., 
for  Mrs.  Axford  is  none  other  than  Hannah  Light- 
foot,  the  inamorata  and  reputed  mistress  of  the  young 
Prince.  To  endeavour  to  separate  fact  from  legend 
in  the  various  accounts  of  this  transaction  were  idle. 
What  seems  plausible  is,  that  walking  unattended  one 
afternoon  in  St.  James's  Street  the  Prince's  attention 
was  attracted  by  a  beautiful  young  woman  gazing 
into  a  printseller's  window.  Their  eyes  met,  Cupid 
shot  his  shaft,  and  the  Prince  returned  to  Leicester 
House.  Again  a  meeting  took  place.  This  time  the 
Prince  desired  his  attendant  to  ascertain  the  identity 
of  the  lady  who  had  so  smitten  his  fancy.  It  appeared 
that  her  father  was  a  respectable  tradesman,  a  Quaker; 
her  uncle,  a  well-to-do  linen-draper  of  the  name  of 
Wheeler,  in  Caiiton  Street,  Pall  Mall.  Investiga- 
tions have  proved  the  absolute  falsity  of  the  con- 
temporary reports  that  a  marriage  ever  took  place 
between  the  Prince  and  the  fair  Quakeress.  How 
long  George's  youthful  passion  lasted  cannot  be 
ascertained.  Hannah  Lightfoot  was,  it  appears,  led 


to  the  altar,  but  the  groom  on  that  occasion  was 
Isaac  Axford,  a  respectable  tradesman,  who  survived 
until  the  year  1816.  There  is  every  reason  to  believe 
that  this  marriage  was  arranged  by  the  lady's  own 
family,  and  it  is  highly  improbable  that  after  1758 
the  future  king  ever  saw  his  mistress  again.1 

A  new  turn  of  political  affairs  fired  the  Prince's 
bosom  to  another  purpose,  and  left  him  little  time  or 
inclination  for  amorous  dalliance. 

In  1755  the  Seven  Years'  War  had  begun.  The 
next  year  the  incapable  Newcastle  found  himself 
with  only  three  British  regiments  fit  for  service  in 
the  kingdom.  Newcastle,  as  has  been  said,  was  too 
weak  and  ignorant  to  rule  alone,  too  greedy  of 
power  to  share  it  with  more  capable  men.  With 
incredible  vigour  France  launched  into  the  conflict, 
threatening  to  land  a  French  army  on  British  shores. 
In  common  with  the  rest  of  his  fellow-subjects 
Prince  George  viewed  the  situation  with  concern 
yet  confident  that  Britons  were  able  to  resist  any 
invader.  A  wave  of  enthusiasm  and  patriotic  zeal 
swept  over  the  country.  "All  the  country  squires,' 
wrote  Walpole,  "  are  in  regimentals."  One  of  the 
first  to  apply  eagerly  for  military  appointment  was 
the  Prince  himself.  He  wrote  to  the  King  offering 
his  services.  "  It  was  a  crisis,"  he  said,  "  when  every 
zealous  subject  was  offering  his  service  for  the 
defence  of  the  king  and  his  country,  and  he,  as 
Prince  of  Wales,  would  be  uneasy  in  inactivity." 
He  reminded  his  grandfather  how  he  in  his  youth 

1  See  Thorns'  Hannah  Light  foot,  §c.     For  further  entertaining 
particulars,  see  letter  to  Lord  Sackville,  Appendix  B. 



had  sought  and  attained  a  soldier's  reputation  on 
the  field  of  battle.  The  same  blood,  he  urged, 
flowed  in  the  veins  of  both,  and  could  his  Majesty 
be  surprised  if  it  inspired  him  with  corresponding 
sentiments.  It  was  true  that  he  was  young  and 
inexperienced,  but  he  hoped  that  personal  courage, 
as  well  as  the  example  he  hoped  to  set,  as  the  highest 
in  rank,  sharing  the  common  peril,  would  make  up 
for  other  deficiencies.1  This  spirited  appeal  of  a  youth- 
ful and  ardent  nature  was  received  with  marked  cold- 
ness by  the  King.  Cynical  and  practical  by  nature, 
his  cynicism  had  only  been  strengthened  by  age  and 
the  experience  of  his  Court.  When  the  Duke  of 
Newcastle  entered  the  royal  closet  the  old  King 
handed  him  his  grandson's  letter.  "  The  Prince," 
he  observed,  "was  evidently  intent  upon  elevating 
himself"  (//  veuoc  monter  un  pas).  The  Duke 
said  he  hoped  his  Majesty  would  return  a  kind 
answer,  that  the  letter  was  very  respectful  and 
submissive.  But  the  King  dismissed  the  formal 
application  with  a  mere  line  of  acknowledgment. 
He  misconstrued  it  as  a  presumptuous  hint  from  a 
mere  boy  that  royalty  should  take  the  lead  in  war. 
The  old  monarch  needed  no  such  hint.  Deficient 
neither  in  courage  nor  energy  on  the  field,  he  gave 
orders  that  his  tents  and  equipment  should  be  ready 
at  an  hour's  notice. 

1  Harris's  Life  of  Hardwicke,  vol.  iii.  p.  182. 


(From  the  Portrait  by  Reynolds  at  Knole  Park) 



DEBARRED  by  his  grandfather's  rather  ungrand- 
fatherly  jealousy  from  taking  any  active  part  in  the 
military  preparations  which  were  everywhere  going 
forward,  the  high-spirited  young  Prince  nevertheless 
>k  a  deep  interest  in  the  progress  of  the  war  and 
its  political  complications.  Newcastle  was  driven 
>m  office,  and,  in  November  1756,  Pitt  became 
Vime  Minister. 

As  we  have  seen,  Pitt,  in  spite  of  his  ability,  was 
lisliked  by  the  King,  and  regarded  with  jealousy 
>y  the  Whig  leaders.  Four  months  later,  unable 
make  any  headway  in  the  gigantic  task  before 
dm,  he  resigned.  It  then  appeared  that  Newcastle, 
limself  distrusted  and  discredited,  was  equally  im- 
>tent  to  enlist  the  services  of  men  of  credit  and 
ibility  to  form  a  Ministry.  A  compact  was  agreed 
ipon.  All  Newcastle  wanted  was  the  control  of 
>fficial  patronage ;  all  Pitt  coveted  was  power, 
specially  as  regarded  foreign  policy  in  the  direc- 
tion of  the  war.  "  Mr.  Pitt  does  everything,  and 
:he  Duke  gives  everything,"  as  Walpole  put  it ;  "so 
>ng  as  they  agree  to  this  position  they  may  do  as 
ley  please."  And  so  began  the  Pitt-Newcastle 



administration,  destined  to  be  the  last  of  the  purely 
Whig  Governments. 

The  life  and  soul  of  that  administration  was 
William  Pitt.  Looking  back  now  on  the  character 
of  this  statesman,  revealed  to  us  not  so  much  in 
the  opinions  of  his  contemporaries  as  in  his  own 
public  acts  and  utterances,  we  are  left  in  some 
doubt  as  to  whether  to  consider  him  an  unalloyed 
benefit  to  his  generation.  To-day  we  have  different 
standards  of  conduct  and  patriotism.  No  longer  are 
we  the  mere  slaves  of  headlong  oratory ;  we  have 
other  rules  to  guide  us  in  our  estimates  of  public 
men.  That  Pitt  was  a  great  man  in  the  sense  of 
owning  an  abnormal  personality,  fiery  energy,  and 
a  loftiness  of  tone,  is  undeniable.  He  was  magnifi- 
cently eloquent  in  an  age  when  eloquence  was  the 
first  test  and  requisite  of  a  statesman.  But  such 
qualities  as  these  may  be  possessed,  and  have  been 
possessed,  by  men  who  have  done  far  less  for  their 
country's  real  good  than  quiet,  taciturn,  unmagnetic 
spirits.  Artificiality  is  the  whole  keynote  of  Pitt's 
life  as  we  know  it.  He  acted,  spoke,  and  wrote  in  a 
theatrical  manner  ;  he  was  a  stage  tragedian,  basking 
perpetually  in  the  limelight.  Even  when  he  first 
entered  the  House  of  Commons,  Walpole  spoke  of 
his  "  gestures  and  emotions  of  the  stage."  His 
speeches  have  fire  and  passion,  but  they  seem  to 
us  to  have  neither  knowledge,  clarity,  nor  precision. 
Pitt  was  perpetually  appealing  to  the  emotions,  and 
he  was  one  of  the  greatest  demagogues  that  ever 
lived.  He  was  always  talking  of  the  people ;  he  was 
for  ever  appealing  from  his  opponents  to  the  people. 


Upon  the  imagination  of  the  people  he  impressed 
himself  very  much  as  every  demagogue  has  done. 
They  regarded  him  with  matchless  enthusiasm  until 
in  an  unguarded  moment  he  nearly  betrayed  himself 
and  them.  And  who  were  the  people  to  whom  Pitt 
incessantly  referred  ?  Not  surely  the  most  cultured, 
intelligent,  and  decent  of  the  community  of  Pitt's 
day,  the  era  of  public  executions,  public  execrations, 
rioters,  and  renegades  ?  No ;  they  were  largely  the 
mob,  the  "  mob  "  in  the  sense  connoted  by  Fielding 
in  Pitt's  day :  "  Wherever  this  word  occurs  in  our 
writings  it  intends  persons  without  virtue  and  sense 
in  all  stations ;  and  many  of  the  highest  rank  are 
often  meant  by  it."  Not  altogether,  but  largely, 
these  were  the  constituents  of  Pitt. 

Pitt  was  a  man  of  ability,  but  it  was  not  trained 
ability.  He  threw  himself  with  a  wealth  of  passionate 
declamation  and  lofty  vehemence  into  the  task  of 
making  England  successful  where  before  she  had 
failed.  Not  for  a  moment  do  we  wish  to  detract 
from  Pitt's  achievements,  where  those  achievements 
rest  on  a  solid  foundation.  But  to  attribute  to  Pitt 
all  that  the  British  armies  accomplished  in  the  latter 
half  of  the  Seven  Years'  War  in  India,  in  Canada, 
the  victories  of  Pocock  and  Rodney,  and  of  Hawke, 
Granby,  and  Draper,  reaches  a  summit  of  encomiastic 
extravagance  too  high  for  its  base  to  rest  on  earth. 

Is  it  contended  that  Clive  and  Hawke  were 
the  products  of  Pitt's  genius  ?  Wolfe's  conduct  at 
Kochefort,  where  he  alone  emerged  with  any  credit, 
and  earned  Hawke's  regard,  was  surely  not  in- 
spired by  Pitt,  who  here  blundered  terribly.  Is  it 

c  33 


not  a  reflection  on  Amherst's  valour  and  strategy  to 
say  that  if  Newcastle  or  the  first  Lord  Holland  had 
been  Prime  Minister  of  England  he  would  not  have 
effected  the  capture  of  Louisburg  ? 

It  is  a  mistake  to  suppose  that  the  English  are 
a  prosaic  people.  There  is  no  nation  in  Europe 
so  alert  to  seize  upon  the  romantic  in  politics.  The 
picturesque,  eloquent  figure  engages  their  hearts 
and  suffrages  to  a  degree  which  makes  the  political 
prepossessions  of  a  Frenchman  or  a  Spaniard  seem 
gelid  and  inert.  The  phenomenon  of  an  obscure 
Jew,  by  the  mere  force  of  an  exotic  personality,  his 
energy  and  his  picturesque  paradoxes,  emerging  from 
his  obscurity  to  take  his  place  at  the  head  of  the 
aristocratic  party,  the  most  exclusive  in  Europe, 
to  become  first  Minister  of  the  English  Crown,  is 
to  foreigners  an  eternal  source  of  wonder.  In  no 
country  is  personal  affectation  surer  of  regard,  have 
meretricious  advantages  a  more  practical  value,  than 
in  downright,  sober  England. 

Pitt's  acting  was  so  intense,  his  figure  so  com- 
manding, his  words  of  command  rang  out  with  such 
resonance,  that  they  awakened  that  frantic  applause, 
that  turbulence  of  approval,  which  invariably  awaits 
a  great  actor  in  a  crowded  theatre.  The  greatness 
of  the  histrion  is  in  the  opinion  of  his  contemporaries. 
Only  those  who  actually  witnessed  his  performances 
can  be  heard  as  testimony.  It  is  so  with  such  an 
a  ctor  as  Pitt.  How  otherwise  could  we  esteem  him 
the  matchless  statesman,  the  brilliant  diplomat,  the 
wise  counsellor — the  pure  patriot  he  appeared  to  some, 
though  not  all,  of  his  contemporaries?  Is  it  the 


general  who  shouts  the  loudest,  who  urges  his  troops 
forward  most  dramatically,  who  wears  the  gaudiest 
uniform,  is  it  he  who  is  the  best  master  of  strategy, 
the  coolest  in  the  field,  and  the  wisest  after  the 
victory  ? 

Nothing  seems  to  us  clearer  than  that  George, 
young  as  he  was,  had  taken  a  far  truer  measure 
of  Pitt  than  his  grandfather.  George  II.  disliked 
and  distrusted  the  Great  Commoner  because  he  was 
a  demagogue,  and  in  his  opinion  only  kings  could 
afford  to  be  demagogues.  Reserved  and  cynical  him- 
self, he  did  not  love  high-flown  phrases  and  theatrical 
attitudes.  When  he  heard  that  Pitt  had  said  to 
the  Duke  of  Devonshire  on  entering  the  Cabinet, 
"  I  know  that  I  can  save  the  country,  and  I  know 
no  other  man  can,"  George  naturally  took  offence 
at  his  audacity.  The  King  well  knew  that  he  him- 
self did  not  possess  the  attributes  which  attract 
the  mob,  but  as  Constitutional  monarch  he  dis- 
trusted any  man  who  openly  boasted  in  his  face, 
"  It  is  the  people  who  have  sent  me  here."  That 
Pitt  was  the  representative  of  the  mob,  and  the  mob's 
power,  in  that  day  of  limited  suffrage,  the  King 
was  fully  aware.  Once  Pitt,  in  a  vain  endeavour 
to  induce  George  II.  to  reprieve  Admiral  Byng, 
urged  the  sentiments  of  Parliament  as  being  in 
Byng's  favour.  The  King  made  a  dry  comment, 
"  You  have  taught  me,"  he  said,  "  to  look  for  the 
voice  of  my  people  elsewhere  than  in  the  House 
of  Commons." 

But  his  grandson,  Prince  George,  regarded 
Chatham  in  a  manner  more  friendly  and  more  just. 



He  went  to  the  House  of  Commons  ere  he  took 
his  seat  amongst  the  Peers  and  heard  the  Great 
Commoner  speak.  He  thought  him  very  eloquent, 
but  that  eloquence  might  be  a  danger.  And  in 
two  words  there  lay  the  truth.  A  match  will  set 
a  house  on  fire,  a  lake  will  hardly  extinguish  it. 
George's  ideas  of  patriotism  were  strangely  different 
from  Pitt's.  They  belonged  to  different  schools, 
and,  strange  as  it  may  appear,  George's  was  the 
newer.  His  is  the  patriotism  we  esteem  to-day, 
less  heroic  perhaps  than  the  love  of  country  which 
Charles  XII.,  Frederick,  and  Napoleon  preached  and 
practised,  but  far  better  grounded  on  the  principles 
of  fraternity  and  benevolence.  George's  reading  of 
history,  guided  and  strengthened  by  Bute,  had 
taught  him  that  the  happiness  of  his  people  is  the 
noblest  end  a  sovereign  can  pursue.  He  started  out 
on  the  true  path,  and  never  afterwards  relinquished 
it.  His  creed  was  that  industry,  sobriety,  piety, 
and  self-respect  are  a  far  better  foundation  for  a 
nation's  glory  than  bloody  and  costly  conquests, 
and  the  ruin  of  smaller  States. 

The  opinion  expressed  by  Bute  many  years 
afterwards  was  certainly  held  at  this  time  by  his 
master  a  year  or  two  before  he  ascended  the  throne 
— that  a  nation  cannot  be  happy  that  is  degraded  in 
her  own  estimation  or  in  that  of  her  neighbours, 
but  that  nothing  will  justify  the  expenditure  of 
blood  and  treasure  in  order  to  gain  a  renown  which 
the  character  and  extent  of  the  wealth  of  the 
people  do  not  deserve  and  cannot  support. 

Yet,  as  we  shall  see,  there  was  one  point — and 


that  a  cardinal  one — at  which  Prince  George  and 
Pitt  were  in  agreement,  namely,  the  danger  and 
injustice  of  oligarchical  rule,  of  government  by  family 
compact.  Both  saw  too  much  of  the  evils  of  the 
party  system  to  care  greatly  for  parties. 

George  was  only  twenty  when  we  find  him 
writing  to  Lord  Bute  on  the  occasion  of  the  re- 
pulse of  General  Abercrombie  at  Ticonderoga : 
"  I  fear  this  check  will  prevent  Abercrombie's 
pushing  to  Crown  Point ;  but  in  this,  as  in  every- 
thing else,  I  rely  entirely  on  Providence  and  the 
gallant  spirit  of  my  countrymen.  Continuing  to 
trust  in  that  superior  help,  I  make  no  doubt  that, 
if  I  mount  this  throne,  I  shall  still,  by  restoring 
the  love  of  virtue,  and  religion,  make  this  country 
great  and  happy."1 

While  thus  a  spectator  from  afar  of  the  events 
which  were  taking  place  in  various  quarters  of  the 
globe  and  filled  England  with  rejoicing,  George 
undertook  a  tour  of  the  kingdom  in  the  company 
of  his  friend  and  counsellor  Lord  Bute.  They 
travelled  to  Edinburgh  as  private  gentlemen,  at- 
tended only  by  two  servants.  Scotland  was  an 
alien  kingdom  to  Englishmen  at  large,  and  the 
Scots  an  alien  people.  We  already  know  that  in 
England  the  Scots  were  regarded  with  contempt. 
What  is  remarkable  is  that  the  Scots,  instead  of 
the  fierce  resentment  of  this  attitude  which  might 

1  Chatham  Correspondence,  vol.  i.  p.  3 3 6.  Pitt  might  him- 
self have  expressed  a  similar  aspiration  for  his  country,  although 
it  is  doubtful  whether  he  would  propose  to  compass  his  ends  by 
the  same  means. 



be  expected  of  a  high-spirited  nation,  seemed  almost 
humbly  to  acquiesce  in  it.  The  English  victory 
of  Culloden  and  the  attainting  of  so  many  of  their 
chief  nobles  had  perhaps  humbled  their  pride.  We 
are  told  that  at  Edinburgh  while  the  party  alighted 
to  change  horses  a  cavalry  officer  passed  the  inn 
and  easily  distinguished  the  features  of  the  royal 
traveller  under  all  the  disguise.  He  immediately 
took  horse  and  followed  the  travellers  at  a  distance, 
eager  to  unriddle  the  important  mission  which  he 
supposed  to  be  the  occasion  of  this  journey.  He 
followed  the  travellers  from  Edinburgh  to  Glasgow, 
and  thence  to  the  west  of  Scotland,  and  lastly  to 
the  Isle  of  Bute.  After  this  he  traced  them  by 
another  route  back  to  the  inn  where  he  first  dis- 
covered them  at  Edinburgh,  and  having  thereby 
gratified  his  curiosity,  discontinued  his  observations.1 
On  his  return  to  London,  after  an  absence  of 
some  weeks,  the  Prince  took  up  residence  at  Saville 
House.  Accounts  of  his  behaviour  and  sentiments 
having  by  this  time  percolated  through  to  the 
mob,  George  found  himself  already  popular.  On 
the  4th  June  1759  a  most  brilliant  Court  was  held 
in  compliment  to  his  birthday.  At  night  the  whole 
town  was  illuminated,  the  only  recorded  exception 
being  the  house  of  a  certain  woollen-draper,  a  Quaker 
in  Cornhill.  At  this  mark  of  disrespect,  we  are  told, 
the  mob  were  so  much  irritated  that  they  pulled  up 
the  pavement  and  split  the  shutters  of  his  shop  with 
large  stones ;  smaller  stones  were  flung  up  as  high 
as  the  third  storey,  the  windows  of  which  were 

1  An  Account  of  the  Princes  Scottish  Journey. 



shattered  to  pieces,  as  was  the  whole  front  of  the 
house.  What  connection  the  dereliction  of  this 
Quaker  had  with  the  current  rumours  concerning 
Hannah  Lightfoot  is  not  known.  Perhaps  it  had 

In  the  social  system  of  to-day  the  Prince  would 
long  ere  this  have  figured  frequently  and  in  many  and 
varied  capacities  before  the  gaze  of  his  future  subjects. 
But  corner-stone  laying  and  various  inaugural  pro- 
ceedings at  which  the  heir-apparent  is  the  chief 
ornament  and  attraction  were  then  unfrequent  and 
unceremonial.  The  Prince  made  his  entry  into 
public  life  by  heading  a  commission  for  giving  in 
George  II.'s  absence  the  royal  assent  to  several 
Bills.  This  was  in  February  1760. 

There  followed  numerous  other  occasions  in 
which  the  Prince  took  part,  and  he  was  an  occa- 
sional attendant  at  the  debates  in  the  House  of 
Lords.  But  he  refused  to  be  present  at  the  trial 
of  the  wretched  Lord  Ferrers  in  April,  lest  he 
should  be  obliged  to  vote  on  the  question  of  life 
or  death  of  that  hapless  Peer. 

No  other  subject  in  the  realm  rejoiced  more 
heartily  at  the  news  of  the  capture  of  Quebec,  or 
deplored  more  sincerely  the  death  of  the  gallant 
Wolfe.  George  kept  himself  au  courant  with  the 
affairs  of  the  empire.  He  felt  to  the  full,  as  we 
have  seen,  the  responsibility  which  the  death  of  his 
grandfather  would  entail  upon  him,  and  he  resolved 
to  shoulder  that  responsibility  with  firmness  and 
courage.  Much  of  his  leisure  was  spent  in  rural 
pastimes  at  Kew,  where  his  mother,  the  Princess 



Dowager,  was  greatly  interested  in  making  a  col- 
lection of  exotic  plants,  the  nucleus  of  the  present 
magnificent  Royal  Botanical  Gardens. 

On  October  25th  George  II.  had  risen  at  his 
usual  time,  without  any  apparent  signs  of  indisposi- 
tion. He  called  his  page,  drank  his  chocolate,  and 
inquired  about  the  wind,  as  if  anxious  for  the  arrival 
of  the  mails,  which  had  been  detained  in  Holland 
a  considerable  time.  He  then  opened  the  window 
and  looked  out  upon  Kensington  Gardens,  and  see- 
ing it  a  fine  day,  said  he  would  walk  in  the  garden. 
On  leaving  the  room  the  royal  page  heard  a  noise 
"  like  the  falling  of  a  billet  of  wood  from  the  fire." 
Returning  hastily,  he  found  the  King  prostrate  on 
the  floor.  "  Call  Amelia,"  he  muttered,  and  almost 
instantly  expired. 

An  hour  later  the  young  Prince  of  Wales  was 
riding  from  Kew  Palace  to  London.  He  had  just 
crossed  Kew  Bridge  when  he  was  accosted  by  a  man 
on  horseback,  who  handed  him  a  piece  of  very  coarse 
white-brown  paper,  on  which  was  scrawled  a  single 
word,  the  name  "  Schrieder."  The  Prince  knew 
Schrieder  was  the  German  valet-de-chambre  of  his 
grandfather.  The  man  had  hurried  away  while  the 
surgeons  were  working  over  the  body  of  his  master. 
He  reported  that  the  King  had  been  seized  by  an 
attack  of  illness  which  threatened  to  be  fatal. 
George  acted  with  great  decision.  "  Say  nothing 
further  of  your  news,"  he  enjoined,  "  and  ride  quietly 
forward."  To  his  attendants  the  Prince  coolly  ob- 
served that  his  horse  had  become  lame,  and  turning 
right  about  recrossed  the  bridge  to  Kew  Palace. 


On  receiving  an  authoritative  note  from  the  Princess 
Amelia  directed  "To  his  Majesty"  he  ordered  his 
attendants  to  accompany  him  to  the  capital.  They 
had  scarcely  proceeded  far  on  the  road  when  the 
royal  party  encountered  a  coach  and  six,  the  lackeys 
in  the  blue  and  silver  liveries  of  Pitt.  The  Secre- 
tary of  State  had  sped  from  London  to  convey 
formally  to  his  master  the  intelligence  of  his  acces- 
sion. Together,  and  silently,  they  made  their  way 
to  Saville  House.  Already  we  may  well  believe  the 
"  Great  Commoner  "  was  speculating  on  the  character 
of  his  new  and  youthful  monarch,  and  what  effect 
this  sudden  turn  of  affairs  would  have  on  his  own 

Amongst  the  crowd  of  courtiers  hurrying  to 
Saville  House  the  King's  eye  caught  that  of  Lord 
Bute.  He  summoned  him  to  his  side,  and  from  that 
moment  the  Earl's  brief  career  of  glory  and  lifelong 
unhappiness  began. 

On  the  same  day  George  sent  for  the  Duke  of 
Newcastle.  On  his  arrival  Newcastle  met  the  Groom 
of  the  Stole,  Lord  Bute,  who  told  him  that  he 
was  the  first  person  to  whom  his  Majesty  proposed 
to  grant  a  private  interview.  The  King  desired  to 
confer  with  him  alone,  before  the  first  Council  met. 
Nothing  occurred  in  the  royal  closet  to  occasion  the 
Duke  any  alarm.  "  His  Majesty,"  he  wrote  to  Lord 
Hardwicke,  "  informed  me  that  he  had  always  had 
a  very  good  opinion  of  me,  and  that  he  knew  my 
nstant  zeal  for  his  family  and  my  duty  to  his 
andfather,  which  he  thought  would  be  pledges  of 
y  zeal  for  him."  The  Duke,  ever  prying  and 



restless  in  his  apprehension,  murmured  something 
about  Bute.  "My  Lord  Bute,"  said  the  King, 
"  is  your  good  friend  ;  he  himself  will  confirm  my 
opinion."  The  phrase  was  twisted  by  Newcastle 
into  a  deep  and  sinister  significance.  He  wrote  to 
Hardwicke  that  the  King  had  said,  "  My  Lord  Bute 
is  your  good  friend ;  he  will  tell  you  my  thoughts." 
His  jealousy  took  instant  alarm.  "  God  knows,  and 
my  friends  know,  the  distress  I  am  in.  Nobody's 
advice  equals  yours  with  me,  and  my  fate,  or  at  least 
my  resolution,  must  be  taken  before  to-morrow 
evening;  therefore,  I  most  ardently  beseech  your 
lordship  to  be  in  town  so  as  to  dine  with  me  to- 
morrow." He  adds :  "  My  opinion  is  they  will  give 
me  good  words,  and  conclude,  as  is  true,  that  I  shall  | 
willingly  go  out." 

As  George  had  received  the  news  of  his  accession 
without  perturbation,  so  he  continued  tranquil  and 
self-possessed.  To  avoid  vain  show  and  the  acclama- 
tions of  the  mob  he  had  decided  that  his  first 
Privy  Council  should  take  place  at  Caiiton  House, 
where  the  Princess  Dowager  occasionally  resided. 
Not  knowing  of  this  intention,  the  purlieus  were 
comparatively  deserted  when  the  new  King  arrived. 
A  small  detachment  of  guards  had,  however,  been 
hastily  summoned  thither  to  pay  him  honour.! 
These  George  summarily  dismissed,  ordering  their 
captain  to  conduct  them  to  Kensington  to  attend 
his  grandfather's  remains. 

At  the  foot  of  the  staircase  the  Duke  of  New- 
castle,   Secretary   of    State,    and    nominally   Prime 
Minister,  bent  the  knee  and  kissed  his  young  sove-1 



reign's  hand.     A  brief  colloquy  took  place,  and  the 
King  entered  the  Council  Chamber. 

Pitt,  who  had  taken  care  to  be  first  in  attendance, 
had  presented  George  with  a  paper  containing  the 
outline  of  a  speech  which  the  Minister  hinted  it 
might  be  proper  to  repeat  to  the  Privy  Council. 
Pitt  might  have  spared  himself  the  trouble.  The 
King  fully  understood  Constitutional  usage.  This 
was  an  occasion  when  the  King  could  speak  his  own 
mind  in  his  own  way.  He  therefore  thanked  his 
Minister  for  his  loyal  consideration.  "  He  had,"  he 
said,  "previously  viewed  the  subject  with  some 
attention,  and  had  himself  already  prepared  the  heads 
of  what  he  should  say  at  the  Council  table." 

Although  at  first  agitated  and  embarrassed  by 
the  novelty  of  his  situation  and  in  the  presence 
of  men  whom  he  scarcely  knew,  George  quickly 
recovered  his  self-possession.  Even  his  bitter  de- 
tractor, Horace  Walpole,  admits  that  his  conduct 
this  day  was  characterised  by  dignity  and  propriety. 
His  speech  had  evidently  been  prepared  with  great 
care.  He  began  by  lamenting  the  death  of  his 
grandfather,  especially  at  this  critical  juncture  in 
the  national  affairs.  After  a  modest  allusion  to  his 
own  insufficiency,  George  declared  his  determination 
to  follow  the  impulse  of  the  tenderest  affection  for 
his  native  country,  depending  upon  the  advice  of  the 
Lords  of  the  Council,  and  resolving  to  make  it  the 
happiness  of  his  life  to  promote  the  glory  and  welfare 
of  the  empire,  to  preserve  and  strengthen  the  consti- 
tution in  both  Church  and  State,  and  to  prosecute  the 
existing  just  and  necessary  war  with  all  vigour,  but 




with  a  due  regard  to  the  bringing  it  to  an  honourable 
and  lasting  peace.  "  The  loss  that  I  and  the  nation 
have  sustained,"  said  he,  "  by  the  death  of  the  King 
my  grandfather,  would  have  been  severely  felt  at 
any  time;  but,  coming  at  so  critical  a  juncture, 
and  so  unexpected,  it  is  by  many  circumstances 
augmented,  and  the  weight  now  falling  on  me  much 
increased.  I  feel  my  own  insufficiency  to  support  it 
as  I  wish ;  but,  animated  by  the  tenderest  affection 
for  my  native  country,  and  depending  on  the  advice, 
experience,  and  abilities  of  your  lordships,  and  the 
support  of  every  honest  man,  I  enter  with  cheerful- 
ness into  this  arduous  situation,  and  shall  make  it 
the  business  of  my  life  to  promote  in  everything 
the  glory  and  happiness  of  these  kingdoms,  to  pre- 
serve and  strengthen  the  constitution  both  in  Church 
and  State ;  and,  as  I  mount  the  throne  in  the  midst 
of  an  expensive,  but  just  and  necessary  war,  I  shall 
endeavour  to  prosecute  it  in  the  manner  the  most 
likely  to  bring  on  an  honourable  and  lasting  peace 
in  concert  with  my  allies." 

It  would  doubtless  have  been  diverting  to  watch 
the  expressions  on  the  faces  of  the  Ministers  as  they 
listened  to  this  language  of  patriotism  and  propriety. 
They  had  no  longer  to  do  with  a  will  entirely  sub- 
servient to  them  in  these  matters.  A  new  force  had 
arisen  in  national  affairs  which  would  need  all  their 
skill  and  diplomacy  to  cope  with,  and  even  then  they 
might  be  baffled.  Only  one  man  in  the  kingdom 
now  held  the  reins,  and  that  man  was  George  the 

Thus  early  Pitt  trembled  for  his  popularity, 

(From  the  Portrait  by  Ramsay) 


Newcastle  trembled  for  his  place.  But  what  seems 
to  have  affected  Pitt  and  Newcastle  most,  was  that 
they  had  not  been  party  to  the  preparation  of  this 
speech.  An  epithet  relating  to  the  war  caught 
Pitt's  attention  and  gave  his  ridiculous  supersensi- 
tiveness  a  shock.  He  asked  Newcastle  afterwards 
what  the  King  had  called  the  war.  "  I  then,"  narrated 
the  Duke,  "  repeated  it  to  him  from  memory." l 
The  Duke's  memory  was  malicious.  He  was  by 
no  means  averse  from  inflaming  Pitt  against  the 
King.  He  told  his  colleague,  therefore,  that  the 
King  had  said  "  a  bloody  war."  Pitt  expressed 
furious  indignation  that  such  words,  without  any 
previous  communication  with  him,  had  been  actually 
"  projected,  executed,  and  entered  on  the  Council 
Books  ! "  But  the  phrase,  as  we  have  seen,  was 
"expensive,  but  just  and  necessary  war,"  and  is  so 
entered  without  subsequent  emendation  on  the 
Council  Book. 

When  the  King's  speech  was  concluded,  without 
addressing  either  Newcastle  or  Pitt  individually,  he 
asked  mildly  if  there  was  anything  wrong  in  point 
of  form  ?  "  We  all  bowed,"  related  the  Duke,  "  and 
went  out  of  the  closet." 

At  this  Council  the  King's  brother,  the  Duke  of 
York,  and  Lord  Bute  were  sworn  in  as  members ; 
the  latter  being  introduced  as  Groom  of  the  Stole  in 
the  new  royal  household,  the  same  office  he  held  in 
the  Prince's  establishment  previous  to  the  accession. 
Parliament  was  prorogued  to  the  13th  November. 

1  Harris's  Earl  of  Hardivicke,  vol.  iii.  p.  214. 



Evidence  of  the  popularity  of  the  new  King 
multiplied  daily.  On  the  third  day  of  the  reign  the 
Lord  Mayor  and  Aldermen  waited  on  his  Majesty 
at  Saville  House  with  a  congratulatory  address, 
and  condolence  upon  George  II.'s  death.  "Their 
peculiar  happiness"  was,  they  avowed,  "to  see  that 
the  youthful  monarch's  heart  was  truly  English,  he 
having  discovered  in  his  earliest  years  the  warmest 
attention  to  the  laws  and  constitution,  so  excellently 
formed  as  to  give  liberty  to  the  people  while  they 
confer  power  upon  the  Prince,  being  thus  a  mutual 
support  of  the  prerogative  of  the  Crown  and  of  the 
rights  of  the  subject." 

George's  reply  on  this  occasion,  apparently  his 
own,  created  an  excellent  impression. 

A  day  or  two  later,  according  to  custom,  the 
Lord  Chamberlain  announced  that  Drawing  Rooms 
would  be  held  on  Wednesdays,  and  on  Sundays 
after  divine  service.  This  latter  arrangement  was 
promptly  nullified  by  George  himself.  It  was 
against  good  sense  and  decorum.  In  his  opinion 
the  Sabbath  day  might  be  employed  to  better  uses 
than  Court  etiquette. 

How  the  new  reign  was  regarded  by  society  in 
the  capital  we  may  readily  learn  from  contemporary 
evidence.  Lord  Lyttelton  writing  to  Mary  Wortley 
Montagu  a  week  after  the  accession  says :  "  It  is 
with  great  pleasure  I  can  assure  you  that  all  parties 
unite  in  the  strongest  expressions  of  zeal  and  affec- 
tion for  our  young  King,  and  approbation  of  his 
behaviour  since  his  accession.  He  has  shown  the 
most  obliging  kindness  to  all  the  royal  family,  and 


done  everything  that  was  necessary  to  give  his 
Government  quiet  and  unanimity  in  this  difficult 
crisis.  I  have  been  told  of  some  great  and  extra- 
ordinary marks  of  royal  virtues  in  his  nature,  and 
royal  wisdom  in  his  mind,  by  those  who  do  not 
flatter.  There  will  be  no  changes  in  the  Ministry, 
and  I  believe  few  at  Court.  The  Duke  of  New- 
castle hesitated  some  time  whether  he  should  under- 
take his  arduous  office  in  a  new  reign,  but  he  has 
yielded  at  last  to  the  earnest  desire  of  the  King 
himself,  of  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  and  of  the 
heads  of  all  parties  and  factions,  even  those  who 
formerly  were  most  hostile  to  him.  His  friend  and 
mine,  my  Lord  Hardwicke,  has  been  most  graciously 
talked  to  by  the  King  in  two  or  three  audiences, 
and  will,  I  doubt  not,  continue  in  the  Cabinet 
Council,  with  the  weight  and  influence  he  ought 
to  have  there." 

George's  first  appearance  amongst  his  subjects 
at  large  was  on  the  very  day  this  letter  was  written, 
when  he  laid  the  first  stone  of  Blackfriars  Bridge. 
His  figure  and  carriage,  we  are  told,  charmed  the 

Walpole,  who  examined  public  characters  as  a 
connoisseur  examines  a  picture  or  a  medal,  feels 
himself  impelled  to  declare :  "  The  new  reign  dates 
ith  great  propriety  and  decency ;  the  civilest  letter 
to  Princess  Amelia ;  the  greatest  kindness  to  the 
Duke ;  the  utmost  respect  to  the  dead  body.  No 
changes  to  be  made  but  those  absolutely  necessary, 
as  the  household,  &c. — and  what  some  will  think  the 
most  unnecessary,  in  the  representative  of  power. 




The  young  King  has  all  the  appearance  of  being 
amiable.  There  is  great  grace  and  temper,  much 
dignity  and  good-nature,  which  breaks  out  on  all 

Walpole  had  been  amongst  the  first  to  kiss 
hands  on  the  King's  accession.  The  King,  he  says, 
is  "good  and  amiable  in  everything,  having  no  view 
but  that  of  contenting  the  world."  To  Horace  Mann 
he  also  writes  on  the  1st  November  1760  :  "  His 
person  is  tall  and  full  of  dignity,  his  countenance 
florid  and  good-natured,  his  manner  graceful  and 
obliging.  He  expresses  no  warmth  of  resentment 
against  anybody — at  most,  coldness.  To  the  Duke 
of  Cumberland  he  has  shown  even  a  delicacy  of 
attention."  Again,  twelve  days  afterwards,  Walpole 
writes  to  the  same  correspondent :  "  For  the  King 
himself,  he  seems  all  good-nature  and  wishing  to 
satisfy  everybody.  All  his  speeches  are  obliging. 
I  saw  him  yesterday,  and  was  surprised  to  find  the 
levee  room  had  lost  so  entirely  the  air  of  the  lion's 
den.  The  sovereign  does  not  stand  in  one  spot 
with  his  eyes  fixed  royally  on  the  ground,  and 
dropping  bits  of  German  news.  He  walks  about 
and  speaks  freely  to  everybody.  I  saw  him  after- 
wards on  the  throne,  where  he  is  graceful  and 
genteel,  sits  with  dignity,  and  reads  his  answer  to 
addresses  well."  The  King's  voice  and  delivery 
are  described  by  others  as  having  been  remarkably 
full  and  fine. 

Among  other  persons  who  have  borne  pleasing 
testimony  to  the  virtues  of  the  young  King  is  Mrs. 
Montagu  herself:  "There  is  a  decency  and  dignity 


in  his  character,"  she  writes  to  Mrs.  Carter,  "that 
could  not  be  expected  at  his  years  ;  mildness  and 
firmness  mixed  ;  religious  sentiments,  and  a  moral 
conduct  unblemished ;  application  to  business ;  affa- 
bility to  every  one ;  no  bias  to  any  particular  party 
or  faction ;  sound  and  serious  good  sense  in  conversa- 
tion, and  an  elevation  of  thought  and  tenderness  of 
sentiment.  There  hardly  passes  a  day  in  which  one 
does  not  hear  of  something  he  has  said  or  done 
which  raises  one's  opinion  of  his  understanding  and 

At   his  first  Sunday   in  church — at  the   Chapel 
Royal — one  of  his  chaplains,  Dr.   Wilson,  ventured 
to  eulogise  the  young  King  from  the  pulpit.     George 
at  once  took  steps  to  prevent  a  recurrence  of  such  ill- 
timed  flatteries.     He  caused  the  worthy  doctor  to  be 
informed  that  he  went  to  church  to  hear  the  praises 
of  God,  not   his   own.     "  Thank    Heaven ! "   writes 
Mrs.  Montagu,  "  that  our  King  is  not  like  his  brother 
of  Prussia,  a  hero,  a  wit,  and  a  freethinker,  for  in 
ic  disposition  of  the  present  times  we  should  soon 
tave  seen  the  whole  nation  roaring  blasphemy,  firing 
cannon,  and  jesting  away  all  that  is  serious,  good, 
ind  great.     Religious  as  this  young  monarch  is,  we 
ive  reason  to  hope  that  God  will  protect  him  from 
:he   dangers   of  his   situation,    and    make   him   the 
leans  of  bringing  back  that  sense  of  religion  and 
irtue,  which  has  been  wearing  off  for  some  genera- 

George's  reign  was  still  only  numbered  by  days 
rhen  he  issued  a  proclamation  for  the  encouragement 
)f  piety  and  for  the  prevention  and  punishment  of 

D  49 


"  vice,  profaneness,  and  immorality  "  throughout  his 
dominions.  Addresses  of  loyalty  poured  in  from 
all  quarters  of  the  kingdom  in  the  course  of  the  three 
weeks  which  elapsed  before  the  meeting  of  Parlia- 
ment. George  showed,  in  spite  of  the  scant  sym- 
pathy which  had  subsisted  between  them,  the  deepest 
respect  for  his  grandfather's  memory.  He  carried 
out  his  wishes  with  great  fidelity ;  even  those  regard- 
ing George  II.'s  mistress,  the  Countess  of  Yarmouth. 
A  sum  of  money,  amounting  to  £8000  in  bank  notes, 
having  been  found  in  the  late  King's  private  cabinet 
marked  "  Lady  Yarmouth,"  was  at  his  grandson's 
request  immediately  handed  to  her. 

He  sent  for  his  uncle,  the  Duke  of  Cumberland, 
and  expressed  to  him  his  earnest  hope  that  they 
might  thereafter  associate  on  the  best  of  terms.  "  He 
was  aware,"  he  said,  "  that  unanimity  had  not  been 
hitherto  a  characteristic  of  the  royal  family,  but  he 
intended  to  inaugurate  a  new  regime.  If  there  were 
any  future  discord,  it  should  not  be  his  fault."  It  is 
a  pity  Cumberland  did  not  cordially  repay  this  frank- 
ness sooner  than  he  did.  He  would  thereby  have 
saved  his  nephew  much  tribulation  of  spirit.  But 
Cumberland  disliked  Bute  :  he,  the  victor  of  Culloden, 
would  not  stoop  to  have  any  dealings  with  a 



FEW  historians  of  this  period  can  forbear  to  relate 
that  a  favourite  saying  of  the  Princess  Dowager  to 
her  son  was,  "  George,  be  a  king  ! "  The  quotation 
has  been  made  with  a  malicious  zest,  as  if  in  this 
wholesome  maternal  injunction  there  lurked  an 
aspiration  towards  tyranny,  the  abuse  of  power,  and 
a  total  deviation  from  constitutional  principles.  But 
if  the  widow  of  the  highest  judicial  functionary  in 
the  realm  should  charge  her  son,  "My  son,  be  a 
Lord  Chancellor,"  the  adjuration  would  only  provoke 
a  benevolent  applause.  Were — to  descend  in  the 
>cial  scale — the  relict  of  a  grocer,  or  a  tailor,  or  a 
:inker  ardently  to  counsel  her  eldest  born  not  only 
follow  in  his  father's  footsteps,  but  to  resolve 
ipon  being  a  good  grocer,  or  tailor,  or  tinker,  such 
nmsel  would  have  the  approbation  of  every  critic, 
ow,  in  the  nice  arrangement  of  the  political 
tachine  in  Britain,  if  not  yet  in  its  Empire,  king- 
lip  is  something  more  than  a  redundant,  ornamental 
rheel;  it  is,  and  long  may  it  continue  to  be,  at 
>nce  the  tireless  mainspring  and  the  indispensable 

What,  briefly,  are  the  functions  of  a  constitu- 
tional monarch.     He  is  entitled  to  complete  know- 


ledge  of  all  public  transactions  and  to  the  amplest 
opportunities  of  discussing  them  with  his  Ministers. 
He  may  criticise,  alter,  or  modify  their  decisions; 
he  may  suggest  amendments,  express  doubts,  put 
forward  alternatives,  and  thereby  assist  in  clarifying 
the  judgment  of  the  Cabinet.  The  King  is  perma- 
nent, his  Ministers  are  fugitive.  He  is  an  impartial 
spectator,  they  are  party  combatants.  Able  to  take 
a  calm  and  comprehensive  survey  of  a  given  situa- 
tion, he  can  see  what  tends  for  the  good  or  ill  of 
the  people  at  large,  to  view  plainly,  as  from  an 
eminence,  the  goal  towards  which  certain  movements 
are  tending;  while  they,  on  the  other  hand,  are 
obfuscated  by  details  and  the  dust  of  partisanship. 

"The  middle  order  of  mankind,"  wrote  Gold- 
smith at  this  very  time,  "  may  lose  all  its  influence 
in  a  State,  and  its  voice  be  in  a  manner  drowned 
in  that  of  the  rabble  ;  for,  if  the  fortune  sufficient  for 
qualifying  a  person  at  present  to  give  his  voice  in 
State  affairs  be  ten  times  less  than  was  judged 
sufficient  upon  forming  the  constitution,  it  is  evident  | 
that  great  numbers  of  the  rabble  will  thus  be  intro- 
duced into  the  political  system,  and  they,  ever 
moving  in  the  vortex  of  the  great,  will  follow  where 
greatness  shall  direct.  In  such  a  State,  therefore, 
all  that  the  middle  order  has  left  is  to  preserve 
the  prerogative  and  privileges  of  the  one  principal 
governor  with  the  most  sacred  circumspection.  For 
he  divides  the  power  of  the  rich,  and  calls  off  the 
great  from  falling  with  tenfold  weight  on  the 
middle  order  placed  beneath  them."1 

1   The  Vicar  of  Wakefield,  p.  90. 


A  very  striking  tract,  entitled  "  Seasonable  Hints 
from  an  Honest  Man  on  the  new  Reign  and  the 
new   Parliament,"   made   its  appearance   supporting 
a    new    theory    of    Government.       It    quickly    at- 
tracted attention,  from  the  fact  that  it  was  under- 
stood to  be  the  composition  of  Walpole's  old  rival, 
Lord  Bath,  the  former  colleague  of  Carteret.     The 
question,  stated  the  writer,  for  the  King  to  determine 
was,  "  Whether  he  is  to  content  himself  with  the 
shadow  of  royalty  while  a  set  of  undertakers  for  his 
business    intercept    his    immediate    communication 
with  his  people,  and  make  use  of  the  legal  preroga- 
:ives  of  their  master  to  establish  the  illegal  claims 
>f  factitious  oligarchy."      In  his  opinion  "  a  cabal 
>f  Ministers  had  been  allowed  to  erect  themselves 
into  a  fourth  estate,  to  check,  to  control,  to  influ- 
ence, nay,  to  enslave  the  others  " ;  it  having  become 
usual  "  to  urge  the  necessity  of  the  King  submitting 
to  give  up  the  management  of  his  affairs  and  the 
exclusive  disposal  of  all  his  employments  to  some 
Ministers,  or  set  of  Ministers,  who,  by  uniting  to- 
gether, and  backed  by  their  numerous  dependents, 
may  be  able  to  carry  on  the  measures  of  Govern- 
ment."    "  Ministerial  combinations  to  engross  power 
ind    invade    the    closet"   were    nothing    less    than 
"  scheme    of    putting  the   sovereign   in   leading- 
:rings,"  and  that  their  result  had  been  the  monstrous 
>rruption  of  Parliament  and  the  strange  spectacle 
>f  a  King  of  England  unable  to  confer  the  smallest 
employment  unless  on  the  recommendation  and  with 
:he  consent  of  his  Ministers.     The  writer  urges  the 
lew  King  to  put  an  end  to  this  system  by  showing 



his  resolution  to  break  all  factious  connections  and 
confederacies."  Already  he  has  "  placed  in  the  most 
honourable  stations  near 'his  own  person  some  who 
have  not  surely  owed  their  place  to  Ministerial 
importunity,  because  they  have  always  opposed 
Ministerial  influence,"  and  by  steadily  pursuing 
this  course  the  true  ideal  of  the  Constitution  will 
be  attained,  "in  which  the  Ministers  will  depend 
on  the  Crown,  not  the  Crown  on  the  Ministers." 
But  to  gain  this  result  it  was  requisite  that  the 
basis  of  the  Government  should  be  widened,  the 
proscription  of  the  Tories  abolished,  and  the 
sovereign  enabled  to  select  his  servants  from  all 
sections  of  politicians.  The  pamphlet  from  which 
we  have  just  quoted  clearly  mirrored  the  King's 

On  the  18th  November,  amid  a  scene  of  much 
splendour,  Parliament  was  opened  by  the  young 
King.  His  speech  on  this  occasion  was  awaited 
by  the  Whigs  with  anxiety  as  deep  as  the  interest  of 
the  nation  at  large.  Forty-eight  hours  before,  the 
speech  had  been  verbally  composed  by  Hardwicke, 
and  forwarded  to  the  King  by  Newcastle.  On  its 
return  into  the  Duke's  hands  a  memorable  inter- 
polation was  discovered.  We  are  told  that  this 
interpolation  occasioned  grave  dissatisfaction  to  the 
Cabinet.  To  understand  why,  it  would  be  necessary 
to  recite  all  the  petty  prejudices,  racial  hatreds  and 
distrusts,  party  and  personal  jealousies  of  the  period. 
What  astonishes  us  is  that  subsequent  commentators 
on  this  passage  actually  appear  to  participate  in  those 
contemporary  prejudices  and  jealousies,  and  almost 


to  question  the  King's  right  to  insert  it  in  the 
speech  from  the  throne.  But  surely  our  views  on 
the  limitations  of  monarchy  have  grown  less  severe 
in  more  modern  times.  Who  questioned  Queen 
Victoria's  right  to  alter  and  amend  the  Queen's 
Speech  on  several  momentous  occasions  ?  So  far 
from  condemning  it,  these  Victorian  interpolations 
have  been  received,  when  the  facts  became  known, 
with  universal  applause  by  her  subjects.  If  there 
ever  was  an  occasion  when  the  intervention  of  the 
sovereign  was  demanded,  if  there  ever  was  an 
opportunity  to  be  seized,  it  was  upon  George's  first 
formal  address  to  the  representatives  of  his  people. 

"  Born  and  educated  in  this  country,  I  glory  in 
the  name  of  Britain ;  and  the  peculiar  happiness  of 
my  life  will  ever  consist  in  promoting  the  welfare 
of  a  people,  whose  loyalty  and  warm  affection  to 
me  I  consider  the  greatest  and  most  permanent 
security  of  my  throne." 

There  in  a  sentence  is  the  definition,  the  best,  the 
most  essential  definition  of  the  aims  and  duties  of  a 
constitutional  monarchy.  But  such  is  not  the  passage 
as  it  was  given  to  the  world,  such  is  not  the  passage 
which  stimulated  the  suspicion  and  provoked  the 
scorn  of  the  Whigs.  A  collation  with  the  original 
text  in  the  King's  own  handwriting  shows  that 
what  he  had  actually  penned  was  "Britain,"  not 
"  Briton."  The  difference  may  seem  trivial ;  but 
it  was  not  trivial.  Britain  was  a  word  familiar 
enough  to  connote  the  two  kingdoms,  and  would 
have  passed  without  comment,  but  "  Briton  "  was  yet 
unfamiliar,  uncouth,  and,  to  nine-tenths  of  English- 



men,  unacceptable.  It  grated  fiercely  on  the  sus- 
ceptibilities of  the  anti-Scottish  party.  It  seemed 
an  impertinence  on  the  part  of  some  secret  adviser 
of  the  King.  That  secret  adviser  could  be  none 
other  than  Lord  Bute.  The  rumour  ran  that  the 
King  had  originally  written  the  word  "  Englishman/' 
but  that  Bute  had  induced  him  to  alter  it  to  "  Briton.1' 
Newcastle  wrote  in  haste  to  Hardwicke :  "There 
must  be  some  notice  taken  of  these  royal  words, 
both  in  the  Motion  and  Address.  I  suppose  you 
will  think  Briton  remarkable.  It  denotes  the  author 
to  all  the  world." 

Having  reviewed  the  prosperous  efforts  of  the 
British  forces  in  Canada  and  India,  and  the  successes 
of  the  allied  armies  in  Germany,  together  -with  the 
state  of  the  nation  at  large,  the  speech  concluded : 
"  In  this  condition  I  have  found  things  on  my 
accession  to  the  throne  of  my  ancestors ;  happy 
in  viewing  the  prosperous  part  of  it ;  happier  still 
should  I  have  been  had  1  found  my  kingdoms, 
whose  true  interest  I  have  entirely  at  heart,  in  full 
peace;  but,  since  the  ambition,  injurious  encroach- 
ments, and  dangerous  designs  of  my  enemies 
rendered  the  war  both  just  and  necessary,  and  the 
generous  overture  made  last  winter,  towards  a 
congress  for  a  pacification,  has  not  yet  produced  a 
suitable  return,  I  am  determined,  with  your  cheerful 
and  powerful  assistance,  to  prosecute  this  war  with 
vigour,  in  order  to  that  desirable  object,  a  safe  and 
honourable  peace.  For  this  purpose  it  is  absolutely 
incumbent  upon  us  to  be  early  prepared  ;  and  I  rely 
upon  your  zeal  and  hearty  concurrence  to  support 


the  King  of  Prussia  and  the  rest  of  my  allies,  and  to 
make  ample  provision  for  carrying  on  the  war  as  the 
only  means  to  bring  our  enemies  to  equitable  terms 
of  accommodation." 

In  his  separate  address  to  the  House  of 
Commons,  the  speech  recommended  vigour,  unani- 
mity, and  despatch  as  the  best  means  of  frustrating 
the  ambitious  and  destructive  views  of  his  enemies : 
"  In  this  expectation  I  am  the  more  encouraged  by 
a  pleasing  circumstance,  which  I  look  upon  as  one 
of  the  most  auspicious  omens  of  my  reign.  That 
happy  extinction  of  divisions,  and  that  union  and 
good  harmony,  which  continue  to  prevail  among 
my  subjects,  afford  me  the  most  agreeable  prospect. 
The  natural  disposition  and  wish  of  my  heart  are  to 
cement  and  promote  them ;  and  I  promise  myself 
that  nothing  will  arise,  on  your  part,  to  interrupt 
or  disturb  a  situation  so  essential  to  the  true  and 
lasting  felicity  of  this  great  people." 

The  speech  added  greatly  to  the  popular  esteem 
in  which  the  young  King  was  already  held.  Every- 
where was  it  noted  with  pleasure  that  a  King's 
Speech  was  delivered  for  the  first  time  within  living 
memory  with  a  purely  English  pronunciation.  The 
grace  and  dignity  of  the  King's  bearing  were  uni- 
versally praised.  Hardwicke  felt  that  this  would 
be  an  ill  time  for  cavilling.  He  counselled 
Newcastle  to  do  nothing  about  the  interpolation ; 
it  was  inserted  "  by  command,"  and  he  felt  it 
was  best  therefore  to  allow  it  to  stand  without  re- 
monstrance. Newcastle  prudently  acquiesced,  only 
remarking  "  That  this  method  of  proceeding  cannot 



last,  though  we  must  now,  I  suppose,  submit."  He 
would  leave  the  forged  "  Briton  "  to  work  its  effect 
amongst  the  disaffected  and  ignorant. 

During  the  first  brief  session  of  Parliament, 
which  was  dissolved  on  19th  March,  George  added 
much  to  his  popularity  by  a  personal  recommenda- 
tion, originating  in  his  own  judgment  and  good 
sense.  It  displayed  how  little  he  sought  to  increase 
his  own  prerogatives  at  the  expense  of  his  subjects. 
By  an  Act  of  William  III.  judges  were  irremovable, 
except  by  intervention  of  Parliament,  during  the  life- 
time of  the  King,  but  on  the  demise  of  the  monarch 
it  was  then  expected  of  his  successor  to  leave  them 
at  will.  Both  George  I.  and  George  II.  had 
exercised  this  prerogative.  George  III.  not  only 
refused  to  tamper  with  the  Bench,  but  recommended 
a  law  for  making  those  commissions  perpetual  during 
life  and  good  behaviour,  notwithstanding  any  demise 
of  the  Crown.  George  freely  recognised  that  the 
power  to  remove  a  judge  was  detrimental  to  the 
complete  independence  of  the  judicial  office. 

For  this  wise  and  liberal  concession  on  the 
following  day  the  whole  ermined  Bench  waited 
upon  the  King  to  return  thanks,  and  Parliament 
duly  passed  the  measure  into  law.  When  writs 
were  issued  for  the  new  elections,  George  seized  the 
occasion  to  inform  all  his  Ministers  that  no  money 
should  be  spent  to  procure  the  election  of  persons 
favourable  to  the  Government.  "  I  will,"  he  charged 
them,  "be  tried  by  my  country."  Would  that  it 
had  been  found  possible  to  continue  thus  and  for 
ever  to  eschew  the  arts  of  bribery ! 



The  first  five  months  of  George's  reign  were 
distinguished  by  no  political  event  of  importance. 
With  the  sanguine  nature  of  youth,  the  King  hoped 
that  the  public  profession  of  his  sentiments  would 
have  their  due  effect  upon  the  temper  of  both 
politicians  and  people,  and  that  after  a  time,  of  their 
own  accord,  unity  and  strength  would  supplant  weak- 
ness and  faction  in  the  counsels  of  the  day. 

Bute  was  too  much  taken  up  with  Court  appoint- 
ments and  the  petty  business  of  his  office  to  spare 
any  time  for  the  consideration  of  ulterior  and  graver 
subjects.  His  early  promotion  as  Privy  Councillor 
has  often  been  considered  something  extraordinary 
and  unprecedented.  But  it  was  customary  for  the 
monarch  to  continue  his  household  servants  in  those 
capacities  which  they  held  under  him  while  Prince 
of  Wales.  Lord  Bute  had  been  Groom  of  the  Stole 
to  Prince  George.  The  holder  of  this  office  is 
always  constituted  a  Privy  Councillor. 

"  Mr.  Glover  was  with  me,  and  was  full  of 
admiration  of  Lord  Bute,"  writes  Dodington  a 
few  days  before  Christmas  1760 ;  "  he  applauded 
his  conduct  and  the  King's,  saying  that  they  would 
beat  everything;  but  a  little  time  must  be  allowed 
for  the  madness  of  popularity  to  cool." 

It  was  in  these  five  months,  when  the  madness  of 
the  King's  popularity  was  still  at  boiling  point,  and 
ere  it  had  begun  sensibly  to  chill,  that  an  episode 
of  interest  occurred.  It  is  clear  that  George  was 
resolving  in  his  mind  whether  it  would  not  be 
possible  to  crown  both  his  patriotism  and  his  love  by 
placing  an  Englishwoman  on  the  throne  of  England, 



Lady  Sarah  Lennox  was  the  youngest  daughter  of 
Charles,  second  Duke  of  Richmond,  and  therefore 
great-granddaughter  of  Charles  II.  Beautiful, 
bewitching,  and  accomplished,  Lady  Sarah,  in  her 
eighteenth  year,  was  commonly  spoken  of  as  the  chief 
ornament  of  the  Court.  "Lady  Sarah  Lennox," 
records  that  indefatigable  chronicler  of  passing 
persons  and  events,  Horace  Walpole,  describing  the 
most  beautiful  women  he  saw  at  St.  James's,  "  was 
by  far  the  chief  angel." 

In  January  1761  the  play  "Jane  Shore"  was 
acted  at  Holland  House.  The  part  of  Jane  Shore 
was  taken  by  Lady  Sarah,  young  Charles  James  Fox 
being  the  Hastings  of  the  piece.  Lady  Sarah  was 
then,  in  Walpole's  opinion,  "  more  beautiful  than  you 
can  conceive,  and  her  very  awkwardness  gave  an  air 
of  truth  to  the  sham  of  the  part,  and  the  antiquity  of 
the  time,  which  was  kept  up  by  her  dress  taken  out 
of  Montfaucon.  Lady  Susan  was  dressed  from  Jane 
Seymour.  I  was  infinitely  more  struck  with  the  last 
scene  between  the  two  women,  than  ever  I  was 
when  I  have  seen  it  on  the  stage.  When  Lady 
Sarah  was  in  white,  with  her  hair  about  her  ears,  and 
on  the  ground,  no  Magdalen  by  Correggio  was  half 
so  lovely  and  expressive." 

In  a  very  short  time  it  began  to  be  rumoured 
that  the  King  and  Lady  Sarah  had  been  seen  much 
together.  The  Princess  took  alarm,  but  the  King's 
infatuation  was  not  easily  to  be  diverted.  It  is 
known  that  they  met  frequently  in  the  grounds  of 
Holland  House.  Naturally  Lady  Sarah's  family, 
notably  her  brother-in-law,  Henry  Fox,  afterwards 


Lord  Holland,  lost  no  opportunity  of  bringing  the 
young  couple  together. 

On  the  occasion  of  the  King's  birthday  St.  James's 
Palace  presented  a  scene  of  unusual  splendour.  In 
the  midst  of  the  bejewelled  throng  which  there 
assembled  to  do  honour  to  their  young  sovereign 
was  the  fair  object  of  George's  affections.  He  seems 
now  to  have  almost  made  up  his  mind  to  oppose  his 
mother  and  marry  Lady  Sarah  Lennox.  Six  years 
later  Chatham's  brother,  Thomas  Pitt,  told  George 
Grenville  that  the  King  had  freely  unbosomed  him- 
self to  Lady  Susan  Strangways,  a  close  friend  and 
kinswoman  of  his  inamorata.  "  His  Majesty,"  he 
said,  "  came  to  Lady  Susan  Strangways  in  the 
Drawing  Room,  asked  her  in  a  whisper  if  she  did  not 
think  the  Coronation  [would  be]  a  much  finer  sight 
if  there  was  a  queen.  She  said,  '  Yes.'  He  then 
asked  her  if  she  did  not  know  somebody  who  would 
grace  that  ceremony  in  the  properest  manner.  At 
this  she  was  much  embarrassed,  thinking  he  meant 
herself ;  but  he  went  on  and  said,  *  I  mean  your 
friend,  Lady  Sarah  Lennox.  Tell  her  so,  and  let  me 
have  her  answer  the  next  Drawing  Room  day. ' '  Lady 
Susan  happening  on  one  occasion  to  mention  that 
she  was  about  to  leave  London  :  "  I  hope  not,"  said 
the  King;  and  immediately  afterwards  he  added: 
"  But  you  return  in  the  summer  for  the  Corona- 
tion ? "  "I  hope  so,  sir,"  replied  Lady  Susan. 
"  But,"  continued  the  King,  "they  talk  of  a  wed- 
ding. There  have  been  many  proposals,  but  I  think 
an  English  match  would  do  better  than  a  foreign 
me.  Pray  tell  Lady  Sarah  I  say  so."  Other  evi- 



dence  confirms  our  belief  that  the  King  really  con- 
templated a  union  with  his  fair  subject. 

But  George  was  no  slave  to  his  passion.  He  was 
well  aware,  as  Wraxall  said  afterwards,  that  Edward 
IV.  or  Henry  VIII.  in  his  situation  would  have 
married  and  placed  Lady  Sarah  on  the  throne; 
Charles  II.,  more  licentious,  would  have  endea- 
voured to  seduce  her.  Although  it  may  have  been 
the  ardent  wish  of  George's  heart  to  make  Lady 
Sarah  his  wife,  yet  further  deliberations  upon  this 
matter  showed  him  clearly  that  his  mother  was 
right,  and  that  from  a  political  point  of  view,  and  in 
the  interests  of  his  subjects,  the  match  was  unde- 
sirable. George  was  a  man  and  a  lover,  as  well  as  a 
king.  It  was  not  the  least  of  his  sacrifices  for  his 
people.  We  can  well  believe  that  the  decision  cost 
him  many  a  pang,  but  having  taken  it  he  plunged 
deeply  into  business  in  order  the  more  quickly  to 
forget.  But  he  never  really  forgot.  Many  years 
afterwards  he  attended  a  theatre  where  a  charming 
actress,  Mrs.  Pope,  whose  resemblance  to  Lady  Sarah 
was  universally  commented  upon,  was  performing. 
Although  the  Queen  and  several  of  his  Court  were 
in  the  royal  box,  George  could  not  conceal  his  agita- 
tion ;  he  half  rose  with  a  changed  countenance,  and 
murmured  to  himself,  "  She  is  like  Lady  Sarah  still." 

The  anodyne  to  which  the  King  resorted  in  his 
distress  was  potent  enough.  Business  of  State  there 
was,  and  plenty.  Not  merely  did  he  find  himself 
surrounded  exclusively  by  Whig  officials  ;  it  was  that 
these  Whigs,  with  few  exceptions,  were  incompetent. 
The  first  to  go  was  Lord  Holdernesse.  Holdernesse 


was  dismissed,  because  he  was  a  faineant;  Legge, 
the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer,  was  discarded  be- 
cause he  was  arrogant  and  offensive,  as  well  as  idle. 
It  was  the  King's  desire  that  the  other  Ministers 
should  be  given  every  chance  to  end  the  war,  and 
place  the  kingdom  on  a  sound  footing.  Peace,  if  the 
reader  will  pardon  the  cant  phrase  of  current  politics, 
was  the  first  plank  in  George's  platform.  The  war 
had  been  popular  owing  to  Wolfe's  and  Clive's 
victories,  the  victories  of  Frederick  the  Great  and 
Prince  Ferdinand,  the  decline  of  French  prestige. 
But  the  war  could  not  be  prolonged,  even  with  a 
continuance  of  successes,  without  great  danger  to 
Britain.  France  might  go  on  fighting  in  Germany 
for  ten  years  without  increasing  her  debt  five  million 
sterling.  Britain  could  not  carry  it  on  for  the  same 
period  without  increasing  hers  upwards  of  fifty 
millions;  while  all  the  advantages  which  might  be 
gained  over  France  would  not  compensate  for  such 
an  enormous  expenditure.  The  peace  party  treated 
the  popular  enthusiasm  for  a  German  war  as  a 
dangerous  delusion.  The  London  and  Bristol  mer- 
chants, of  course,  cried  for  it ;  but  the  landholders 
suffered,  and  the  peasantry  starved  or  were  killed. 
The  glory  and  advantage  of  sweeping  the  sea  cost 
the  land  four  or  five  millions  a  year.  When  the 
merchants  ceased  to  make  private  fortunes  out  of 
contracts  for  supplies  they  would  repent  of  their 
zeal  for  war.  A  reaction  would  come  now  the 
national  honour  was  vindicated,  and  the  national 

f  sessions  were  secured. 
Peace  now  became  the  watchword  of  a  new  party 


opposed  to  Pitt.  The  whole  principle  and  considera- 
tion by  which  the  war  was  continued  were  arraigned 
by  this  party,  on  whom  an  anonymous  pamphleteer 
bestowed  the  title  of  the  "King's  friends."  The 
Prussian  subsidies  were  condemned.  Frederick  of 
Prussia  received  £650,000  a  year  to  assist  him  to  win 
victories,  and  England  was  bound  to  defend  him 
without  any  sacrifice  whatever  on  his  part.  The 
whole  basis  of  the  arguments  of  Pitt  and  his  party 
was  the  value  to  this  country  of  Hanover.  George, 
unlike  his  grandfather,  cared  nothing  about  Hanover. 
The  money  which  had  been  lavished  in  defence  of  his 
Hanoverian  domains  he  would  much  prefer  to  have 
seen  expended  in  compelling  the  French  to  make 
peace.  But  peace  was  no  part  of  Pitt's  plan.  To 
make  peace  would  have  been  to  sap  the  foundations 
of  his  popularity  and  his  power,  and  in  this  the  mob, 
and  especially  the  London  mob,  were  with  Pitt. 
George  was  not  to  be  baulked  of  his  policy.  He 
waited  impatiently  for  the  conclusion  of  hostilities. 
Once  a  phrase  escaped  him  :  "  I  have  two  Secretaries 
of  State,"  he  said,  "  one  who  can  do  nothing,  and  one 
who  will  do  nothing." 

It  must  not  be  supposed  that  these  early  months 
of  the  new  reign  had  brought  harmony  and  more 
unity  to  the  Whig  oligarchy.  On  the  contrary, 
the  great  families  became  more  and  more  divided. 
The  Russell  and  Pelham  factions  were  at  open 
enmity.  Newcastle  was  secretly  intriguing  to  get 
rid  of  Pitt;  Fox  was  as  deep  in  a  plot  to  have 
Newcastle  dismissed.  The  Duke  of  Bedford,  Lord 
Hardwicke,  George  Grenville,  and  Fox  began  to 


mutter  that  it  was  time  Pitt's  war  came  to  an  end. 
It  was  exhausting  the  resources  of  the  country,  the 
pride  of  France  had  been  sufficiently  humbled,  and 
now  was  the  propitious  moment  for  England  to 
propose  terms.  But  Pitt  and  his  brothers-in-law, 
Temple  and  James  Grenville,  stood  firm  against  this 
unreasonable  demand  for  peace.  While  they  quar- 
relled amongst  themselves,  the  Gazette  announced 
that  Lord  Bute  had  been  given  the  post  vacated 
by  the  Earl  of  Holdernesse.  Instantly  the  ignorant 
fears  of  the  mob  were  aroused.  Several  popular 
demonstrations  against  Bute  occurred,  secretly 
fomented  by  his  enemies.  "  No  petticoat  govern- 
ment— no  Scotch  Minister !  "  became  the  vulgar  cry. 
What  would  they  have  thought  had  they  known 
that  the  man  they  loved  to  insult  owed  his  appoint- 
ment to  the  repeated  solicitations  of  Newcastle, 
Devonshire,  and  Rockingham  ?  But  Bute  was  no 
seeker  after  popularity,  and  he  held  these  scurrilous 
railings  on  the  part  of  the  ignorant  multitude,  aided 
and  abetted  by  Grub  Street,  in  contempt.  He  had 
his  own  concept  of  good  government  and  good  laws, 
and  that  concept  he  had  resolved  if  ever  he  came 
into  office  to  carry  out,  relying  on  the  justice  and 
good  sense  of  the  majority  of  his  countrymen  to 
justify  and  support  him.  It  is  said  that  the  mistake 
Bute  made  was  in  his  precipitancy.  He  should  have 
been  more  politic  and  patient ;  he  should  have  played 
a  waiting  game.  The  Newcastle- Pitt  combination 
was  clearly  doomed ;  already  was  it  inoculated  with 
the  fatal  germs  of  aniflfinsitfl*  *fctfl  -^fotriljjti  — ^itt'T 
^arrogance  increased  Tiourly,  his  colleagues  in  the 

E  65 


Council  were  mere  puppets.  He  would  not  even 
hearken  to  any  criticism  of  his  plans  or  conduct; 
he  threatened  with  impeachment  any  Minister  or 
official  who  dared  to  oppose  him.  Anson,  the  First 
Lord  of  the  Admiralty,  was  not  even  permitted  to 
read  the  orders  he  was  compelled  to  sign.  The 
responsible  heads  of  departments  found,  to  their  dis- 
gust, that  their  subordinates  were  receiving  instruc- 
tions direct  from  Pitt  of  which  they  themselves 
were  wholly  ignorant. 

True  these  things  no  doubt  are,  but  they  should 
not  allow  us  to  convict  Bute  of  indiscretion.  The 
real  origin  of  Bute's  precipitancy  was  Newcastle. 
Himself  living,  as  has  been  said,  "in  a  continual 
state  of  mingled  terror  and  resentment,"  he  turned 
to  Bute  as  the  one  man  in  the  King's  confidence 
who  could  deliver  him  and  his  dissatisfied  colleagues 
from  the  tyranny  of  Pitt.  The  Earl  was  disinclined 
to  join  openly  in  the  national  Councils.  We  find 
Melcombe  incessantly  urging  the  propriety  of  the  step 
upon  him.  "  He  was  bound,"  he  said,  "  by  every 
motive,  both  public  and  private,  to  take  an  active 
part  in  the  Government."  To  Bute  too  turned 
the  Tories,  so  long  excluded  from  power.  Sunlight 
suddenly  irradiated  and  warmed  the  great  Jacobite 
families,  who  had  for  decades  languished  in  obscurity. 
As  new  hopes  filled  their  bosoms,  they  with  the  dis- 
satisfied anti-Pitt  Whigs  began  to  combine  with  the 
peace  party  to  weaken  and  cast  down  the  junta 
whose  continued  ascendency  was  in  their  eyes 
dangerous  to  the  State. 

One  might  fancy  that,  apprised  of  this  growing 


opposition,  Pitt  would  have  somewhat  lessened  the 
scope  of  his  ambitious  operations.  On  the  contrary, 
this  was  the  moment  when  he  cast  a  fresh  bomb 
upon  the  bonfire. 

Belleisle,  off  the  coast  of  Brittany,  to  which  he 
had  despatched  an  expedition  in  the  spring,  had 
been  captured  by  the  English  in  June  1761.  This 
happy  victory,  thought  the  nation,  would  hasten 
peace.  But  the  French  claims  were  still  considered 
by  Pitt  exorbitant  and  presumptuous.  In  the  midst 
of  the  haggling  France  presented  a  memorial  on 
behalf  of  Spain,  asking  for  restitution  of  certain 
ships  flying  the  Spanish  flag  which  had  been  captured 
during  the  war,  the  privilege  to  fish  upon  the  banks 
of  Newfoundland,  and  the  demolition  of  the  English 
settlements  in  the  Spanish  colony  of  Honduras. 

To  this  memorial  Pitt  replied  haughtily,  that  "  he 
expected  that  France  will  not  at  any  time  presume 
a  right  of  intermeddling  with  such  disputes  between 
England  and  Spain."  As  a  punishment  for  French 
presumption  Pitt  proceeded  to  make  terms,  under 
which  France  would  surrender  all  sources  of  wealth 
and  political  importance  in  North  America,  Africa, 
and  Asia.  The  demolition  of  Dunkirk  was  peremp- 
torily demanded  as  the  price  of  liberty  to  fish  on 
the  banks  of  Newfoundland,  and  that  permission 
was  rendered  less  valuable  by  a  refusal  to  cede 
Cape  Breton.  Belleisle  was  offered  as  an  equivalent 
for  Minorca ;  Guadeloupe  and  Marie  Galante  were 
to  be  restored.  Canada  was  to  be  kept,  but  the 
imits  were  far  from  being  accurately  defined.  The 
[uestion  of  the  conquests  in  India  was  left  to  the 


English  and  French  East  India  Companies  to 
settle.  The  restitution  of  prizes  was  refused ;  and 
as  to  the  war  in  Europe,  the  King  would  con- 
tinue, as  paymaster,  to  assist  the  King  of  Prussia 
in  the  recovery  of  Silesia.  These  terms  were  not 
too  liberal :  the  manner  of  offering  them  was 

"  The  equitable  end  of  war,"  comments  Adolphus, 
"  is  not  the  political  annihilation  of  an  enemy,  but 
the  determination  of  disputes  and  the  securing  of  an 
honourable  and  permanent  peace.  Neither  of  these 
objects  could  have  been  attained  by  this  pacification, 
and  France,  however  reduced  in  finance,  could  not 
be  expected  to  receive  such  disgraceful  conditions 
while  she  yet  had  the  means  of  prolonging  a  contest 
which  might  produce  a  change  in  her  favour,  but 
could  hardly  reduce  her  to  a  more  deplorable  state 
of  necessity." 

Spain  had  no  desire  for  war :  war  could  easily 
have  been  averted.     But  the  result  of  Pitt's  action 
was   a   secret   alliance  between   France  and    Spain, 
known    as   the   "Family   Compact."      Stanley,    th< 
British  Agent  in  Paris,  obtained  vague  informatior 
of  what  was  said  to   be  one  of  the   articles.     Pit 
wanted  nothing  more;  he  resolved  to  declare  wa 
against  Spain.      In  his  opinion,  Spain  was  building 
ships  to  fight  England,  and  it  was  good  policy  t< 
launch   at  them   a   blow  while  they  were  still  un 

Pitt's    colleagues   were   filled   with   amazement 
they   asked   upon  what  basis  a  declaration   of  wai 
could    be    maintained.      The    "  Family    Compact ' 


might  or  might  not  exist ;  nothing  was  certainly 
known.  The  Spanish  Government  vehemently  dis- 
avowed all  hostile  intentions.  The  ships  of  war 
building  in  the  Spanish  dockyards  were  never  in- 
tended to  be  used  against  Great  Britain,  but  for 
convoying  merchant  vessels  and  repressing  the  Bar- 
bary  pirates.  "The  King  of  Spain,"  so  ran  the 
Spanish  despatch  forwarded  by  Lord  Bristol,  the 
British  Minister  at  Madrid — "  the  King  of  Spain  will 
say,  as  the  King  of  England  does,  that  he  will  do 
nothing  on  account  of  the  intimation  of  a  hostile 
Power  which  threatens  a  future  war.  The  Catholic 
King  approves  of  and  esteems  in  other  monarchs 
those  sentiments  of  honour  he  feels  himself,  and  if  he 
had  thought  that  the  delivery  of  the  memorial  had 
been  construed  as  a  threat,  he  would  never  have 
consented  to  it.  Why  has  not  England  made  the 
trial  of  concluding  a  peace  with  France,  without  the 
guaranty  or  intervention  of  Spain ;  and  adjusted  her 
differences  with  Spain,  without  the  knowledge  of 
France  ? "  In  a  word,  Spain  was  ready  to  forego 
every  claim,  consistent  with  dignity,  to  avoid  a 
rupture  with  Britain.  But  Pitt  was  obdurate.  He 
was  sure  Spain  was  plotting,  and  nothing  but  war 
with  Spain  would  satisfy  him. 

The  natural  course  would  have  been  to  advise  his 
colleagues  of  his  suspicions,  to  take  them  entirely 
into  his  confidence.  AVhat  he  told  them  was  cer- 
tainly no  grounds  for  a  declaration  of  war. 

It  must  be  owned,  observes  Mr.  Lecky,  that 
modern  public  opinion  would  have  seldom  acquiesced 
in  a  war  the  avowed  and  known  reasons  of  which 


were  so  plainly  inadequate,  and  it  was  probably  by 
no   means   only   a   desire   to   expel   Pitt   from    the 
Ministry  that  actuated  those  who  rejected  his  advice. 
George  watched  Pitt's  conduct  with  distress.     "  The 
King,"  wrote  Newcastle,  "  seemed  so  provoked  and 
so  weary  that  his  Majesty  was  inclined  to  put  an 
end,   at   all   events,   to   the   uncertainty  about  Mr. 
Pitt."    On  26th  September  he  writes:  "The  King 
seems  every  day  more  offended  wi^h  Mr.  Pitt,  and 
plainly  wants   to   get   rid   of   him)at   all   events." 
At  three  successive  Cabinet  Councils  the  question 
was    debated.      Pitt    stormed    and    vapoured.      He 
wanted  no  opposition,  he  said.     "  He  was  called," 
he    declared    haughtily,    "to    the    Ministry   by  the 
voice  of  the  people,  to  whom  he  considered  him- 
self  accountable    for    his    conduct,    and    he    would 
not    remain    in    a    situation   which    made    him    re- 
sponsible for   measures   he  was   no   longer  allowed 
to  guide."     This  was  too  much  for  Granville,  the 
President  of  the  Council.     "  I  can  hardly,"  he  said, 
"  regret    the    right    honourable    gentleman's    deter- 
mination to  leave  us,  as  he  would  otherwise  have 
compelled  us  to  leave  him ;  but  if  he  be   resolved 
to   assume  the   right   of  advising  his   Majesty  and 
directing  the  operations  of  the  war,  to  what  pur- 
pose are  we  called  to  this  Council  ?     When  he  talks 
of  being   responsible   to   the   people,   he   talks    the 
language   of  the  House   of  Commons,  and  forgets 
that   at   this   board   he   is   only   responsible   to   the 
King.     However,  though  he  may  possibly  have  con- 
vinced  himself  of  his   infallibility,   still   it   remains 

1  Albemarle's  Life  of  Rockingham,  i.  42,  44. 

(From  the  Portrait  by  R.  Brompton) 


that  we  should  be  equally  convinced  before  we  can 
resign  our  understandings  to  his  direction  and  join 
with  him  in  the  measures  he  proposes." 

Pitt,  therefore,  decided  to  throw  up  the  seals, 
and  his  proud  and  factious  brother-in-law,  Temple, 
came  to  the  same  decision. 

George  received  his  Minister's  resignation  graci- 
ously, but  with  firmness.  He  expressed  concern  at 
the  loss  of  so  able  a  Minister,  but  at  the  same  time 
avowed  himself  satisfied  with  the  opinion  of  the 
majority  of  the  Council.  He  should,  he  could  not 
help  adding,  have  found  himself  under  the  greatest 
difficulty  had  they  supported  instead  of  rejecting  the 
proposed  measure.  To  show  the  favourable  sense 
he  entertained  of  Pitt's  services,  he  begged  him  to 
name  any  rewards  in  the  power  of  the  Crown  to 
bestow.  Those  superficially  acquainted  with  Pitt's 
character  might  have  looked  for  a  pompous  Nolo 
episcopari  in  response  to  the  royal  offer.  Instead  of 
which  he  fell  on  his  knees,  and,  bursting  into  tears, 
exclaimed,  "  I  confess,  sire,  I  had  but  too  much 
reason  to  expect  your  Majesty's  displeasure.  I  did 
not  come  prepared  for  this  exceeding  goodness. 
Pardon  me,  sire;  it  overpowers,  it  oppresses  me!" 
The  scene  was  a  painful  one,  and  George  was 
probably  relieved  when  it  was  over.  It  is  not 
necessary  for  us  to  dwell  upon  it. 

To  return  to  the  negotiations.  That  very  day 
Newcastle  received  from  the  Ambassador  at  Madrid 
the  assurance  that  there  never  was  a  time  when  the 
King  of  Spain  wished  more  to  have  friendly  relations 
with  the  King  of  Britain  than  at  present.  "  This," 


commented  the  Duke,  "  seems  a  flat  contradiction  to 
all  Mr.  Pitt's  late  suppositions  and  assertions." 

While  the  Cabinet  were  reading  this  despatch, 
Pitt  was  writing  to  Bute,  mentioning  that  a  pension 
of  £3000  a  year  for  three  lives  would  be  very  accept- 
able to  him,  together  with  a  title  for  his  wife  and  her 
issue.  Pitt  alludes  to  "  These  most  gracious  marks 
of  his  Majesty's  approbation  of  his  services.  They 
are  unmerited  and  unsolicited,  and  I  shall  ever  be 
proud  to  have  received  them  from  the  best  of 
sovereigns."  Even  his  letters  to  Bute  acknowledg- 
ing the  King's  kindness  were  "  couched  in  a  strain  of 
florid,  fulsome,  almost  servile  humility,  lamentably 
unworthy  of  a  great  statesman." 

What  happened  when  the  news  transpired  was 
only  what  might  have  been  expected.  Public  opinion 
instantly  underwent  a  change.  All  the  credit  which 
Pitt's  resignation  might  have  produced  amongst  the 
war  party  was  momentarily  eclipsed.  "  Oh,  that 
foolishest  of  great  men,"  says  Walpole,  "  that  sold 
his  inestimable  diamond  for  a  paltry  peerage  and 
pension !  "  If  Pitt  had  not  previously  held  such 
high-flown  language  about  disinterestedness  and  in- 
dulged in  such  heroic  denunciation  of  pensioners, 
there  would  be  nothing  extraordinary  in  his  claiming 
a  reward  which  the  greatest  of  English  statesmen 
and  soldiers  have  been  glad  and  proud  to  receive. 

The  seals  which  Pitt  resigned  were  immediately 
given  to  Charles,  Earl  of  Egremont,  nephew  of  Sir 
William  Windham,  the  Tory  leader  of  the  last  reign. 
The  Duke  of  Bedford  filled  Temple's  post  as  Privy 

1  Lecky,  vol.  iii.  p.  37. 


Seal.  Newcastle's  joy  was  notorious.  "  I  never," 
writes  Sir  George  Colebrooke,  "  saw  the  Duke  in 
higher  spirits  than  after  Mr.  Pitt,  thwarted  by  the 
Cabinet  in  declaring  war  against  Spain,  gave  notice 
of  his  resignation."  But  his  elation  was  soon  followed 
by  marked  anxiety.  "  Do  not,"  said  Lord  Talbot  to 
him  bluntly,  "die  for  joy  on  the  Monday,  nor  for 
fear  on  the  Tuesday." 




"I  PITY  the  young  King,"  wrote  Mary  Wortley 
Montagu  to  a  friend,  "who  in  the  season  of  life 
made  for  cheerfulness,  and  most  exempt  from  care, 
has  such  a  weight  thrown  upon  him  as  the  govern- 
ment at  present.  Dangers  alarm  the  experienced, 
but  must  amaze  and  terrify  the  inexperienced." 

If  George  felt  the  weight,  he  as  yet  bore  it 
cheerfully.  In  the  midst  of  the  negotiations  for 
peace  with  France  he  set  about  negotiations  for 
his  own  future  happiness.  Lady  Sarah  Lennox 
being  denied  him,  he  would  find  another  consort  of 
whom  his  mother  and  the  nation  would  approve.  A 
suitable  match  for  the  sovereign  was  an  urgent 
object  of  State  policy.  Augusta  is  said  to  have  con- 
templated one  of  her  own  nieces,  a  Princess  of  the 
Saxe-Gotha  family,  but  owing  to  some  physical 
imperfection  in  the  lady  this  plan  could  not  be 
carried  out.  At  George's  request,  Colonel  Graeme, 
a  confidential  officer,  was  despatched  to  the  lesser 
German  Courts  in  search  of  the  future  Queen.  His 
instructions  were  to  find  a  princess  perfect  in  appear- 
ance and  health,  accomplished,  particularly  in  music, 
the  King  being  of  a  very  musical  disposition,  and  last, 
but  not  least,  a  princess  of  an  amiable  temperament. 


In  his  travels,  of  which  it  is  a  pity  he  has  left  no 
account,  the  worthy  Colonel  discovered  the  Princess 
Dowager  of  Mecklenburg- Strelitz  at  Pyrmont.  To 
this  secluded  spa  she  had  resorted  with  her  two 
daughters,  living  simply  and  without  ceremony.  No 
difficulty  offered  to  Grasme's  becoming  acquainted 
with  their  habits  and  characters.  After  making 
some  necessary  inquiries,  the  usual  formulas  were 
gone  through  with,  and  in  a  few  weeks  the  Princess 
Charlotte  of  Strelitz  was  recommended  as  the  future 
Queen  of  England. 

George  frankly  told  Lord  Harcourt  he  had  now 
"found  such  a  partner  as  he  hoped  to  be  happy 
with  for  life."  Yet  some  weeks  elapsed  ere  he  let 
the  kingdom  into  the  secret.  Not  until  8th  July 
1761  did  he  formally  announce  to  his  Council 
that,  "  Having  nothing  so  much  at  heart  as  the 
welfare  and  happiness  of  his  people,  and  that  to 
render  the  same  stable  and  permanent  to  posterity, 
after  the  most  mature  reflection  and  fullest  in- 
formation, he  had  come  to  a  resolution  to  demand 
in  marriage  the  Princess  Charlotte  of  Mecklenburg- 
Strelitz,  a  Princess  distinguished  by  every  amiable 
virtue  and  elegant  endowment,  whose  illustrious  line 
had  constantly  shown  the  firmest  zeal  for  the  Pro- 
testant religion  and  a  particular  attachment  to  his 
Majesty's  family." 

A  week  later  it  was  proclaimed  that  the  double 
'oronation  would  be  solemnised  on  the  22nd  Sep- 
;mber,  and  preparations  were  at  once  commenced 

England  to  welcome  the  royal  bride.  Earl 
[arcourt,  together  with  the  two  finest  women  of 



the  Court,  the  Duchesses  of  Ancaster  and  Hamilton, 
were  sent  to  fetch  Princess  Charlotte,  while  the  fleet 
of  convoy  was  under  the  command  of  the  celebrated 
Lord  Anson. 

Naturally  the  greatest  curiosity  was  expressed 
in  circles,  both  high  and  low,  as  to  the  personal 
appearance  and  character  of  the  fair  newcomer.  The 
sensations  evoked  are  very  much  the  same  in  all 
countries ;  from  duke  to  peasant  the  whole  nation 
is  prepared  to  greet  their  new  queen  with  joyous 
acclaim.  The  royal  stranger,  whatever  her  real 
endowments,  will  be  considered  beautiful  and  amiable, 
and  be  sure  at  least  of  a  temporary  popularity. 

According  to  one  of  the  numerous  loyal  versifiers 
who  celebrated  the  royal  nuptials,  we  are  told  of 
Charlotte  that : 

She  comes  !     I  see  her  from  afar, 
Refulgent  as  the  morning  star, 
Or  as  the  midday  sun. 

Such  extravagant  encomiums,  it  is  to  be  feared, 
were  hardly  justified  in  the  Princess's  person.  Judg- 
ing from  the  various  portraits  of  her,  what  beauty 
she  possessed  was  in  expression,  for  her  features  were 
decidedly  plain.  Figure,  carriage,  and  manner  were, 
however,  attractive,  and  of  her  amiability  and  good- 
ness of  heart  there  is  a  great  weight  of  testimony. 

"  She  is  not  tall,  nor  a  beauty,"  writes  Walpole, 
"pale  and  very  thin,  but  looks  sensible,  and  is 
genteel.  Her  hair  is  darkish  and  fine ;  her  forehead 
low,  and  her  nose  very  well,  except  the  nostrils 
spreading  too  wide ;  her  mouth  has  the  same  fault, 


but  her  teeth  are  good.  She  talks  a  good  deal,  and 
French  tolerably." 

We  are  told  that  at  his  first  glimpse  of  his  consort 
an  involuntary  expression  of  the  King's  countenance 
revealed  a  slight  disappointment ;  but  it  was  a 
passing  cloud.  He  soon  regarded  the  young  Princess 
with  interest,  which  rapidly  ripened  into  tenderness, 
and  their  affectionate  relations  were  never  seriously 
interrupted  for  more  than  half  a  century. 

The  Princess  stayed  the  night  she  arrived  at 
the  house  of  the  Earl  of  Abercorn  at  Witham,  in 
Essex.  She  left  early  the  next  morning,  arriving 
the  same  day  at  St.  James's  Palace,  where  she  was 
received  by  the  King  and  the  rest  of  the  royal 
family.  That  same  evening,  at  nine  o'clock,  7th 
September,  the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  performed 
the  marriage  ceremony  in  the  Chapel  Royal. 

Walpole  supplies  us  with  some  entertaining  chit- 
chat relating  to  Charlotte,  who  was  destined  to  a 
married  life  of  fifty-seven  years,  and  to  bear  her 
consort  no  fewer  than  fifteen  children. 

"  On  the  road  they  wanted  her  to  .  curl  her 
toupee :  she  said  she  thought  it  looked  as  well  as 
that  of  any  of  the  ladies  sent  to  fetch  her ;  if  the 
King  bid  her  she  would  wear  a  periwig  ;  otherwise 
she  would  remain  as  she  was.  When  she  caught 
the  first  glimpse  of  the  palace  she  grew  frightened 
and  grew  pale ;  the  Duchess  of  Hamilton  smiled. 
The  Princess  said,  'My  dear  Duchess,  you  may 
laugh ;  you  have  been  married  twice,  but  it  is  no 
joke  to  me.'  Her  lips  trembled  as  the  coach 
stopped,  but  she  jumped  out  with  spirit,  and  has 



done  nothing  but  with  good-humour  and  cheer- 
fulness. She  talks  a  great  deal,  is  easy,  civil,  and 
not  disconcerted.  At  first  when  the  bridesmaids 
and  the  Court  were  introduced  to  her,  she  said, 
*  Mon  Dieu,  il  y  en  a  tant ! '  She  was  pleased  when 
she  was  to  kiss  the  peeresses,  but  Lady  Augusta 
was  forced  to  take  her  hand  and  give  it  to  those 
who  were  to  kiss,  which  was  prettily  humble  and 
good-natured.  While  they  waited  for  supper,  she 
sat  down,  sung  and  played.  Her  French  is  toler- 
able ;  she  exchanged  much  both  of  that  and  German 
with  the  King,  the  Duke,  and  the  Duke  of  York. 
They  did  not  get  to  bed  till  two.  To-day  was  a 
Drawing  Room;  everybody  was  presented  to  her, 
but  she  spoke  to  nobody,  as  she  could  not  know  a 
soul.  The  King  looked  very  handsome,  and  talked 
to  her  continually  with  great  good-humour.  It 
does  not  promise  as  if  they  would  be  the  two  most 
unhappy  persons  in  England." l 

A  fortnight  after  the  marriage,  on  the  22nd  Sep- 
tember, the  Coronation  took  place.  The  populace 
made  it  an  occasion  for  high  festival.  Many  thou- 
sands passed  the  whole  of  the  previous  night  in  the 
open  air.  The  ceremony  in  Westminster  Abbey 
appears  to  have  been  undistinguished.  But  that 
in  Westminster  Hall,  later  in  the  day,  was  one  of 
impressive  splendour.  Gray,  the  poet,  who  was 
present,  says  that  it  was  the  most  magnificent 
spectacle  he  ever  beheld.  "  The  King  bowing  to 
the  Lords  as  he  passed,  with  his  crown  on  his 
head,  and  the  sceptre  and  orb  in  his  hands,  took  his 

1  Wai  pole's  Letters,  iii.  p.  432. 



place  with  great  majesty  and  grace.  So  did  the 
Queen,  with  her  crown,  sceptre,  and  rod.  Then 
supper  was  served  on  gold  plate.  The  Earl  Talbot, 
Duke  of  Bedford,  and  Earl  of  Effingham,  in  their 
robes,  all  three  on  horseback,  prancing  and  curvet- 
ting like  the  hobby  -  horses  in  the  '  Rehearsal,' 
ushered  in  the  courses  to  the  foot  of  the  haut-pas. 
Between  the  courses,  the  Champion  performed  his 
part  with  applause.  The  Earl  of  Denbigh  carved  for 
the  King,  the  Earl  of  Holdernesse  for  the  Queen." 

Upon  this  spectacle  in  one  of  the  galleries  gazed 
a  solitary  figure,  his  face  half  concealed.  Him 
nobody  seemed  to  know  or  regard.  Perchance  it 
would  have  given  the  feelings  of  George  and  his 
consort  a  shock  had  they  learnt  that  this  spectator 
was  Charles  Edward,  great-grandson  of  James  II., 
and  his  legitimate  successor  by  right  of  descent. 
When  the  King's  champion  dashed  down  his  gauntlet 
in  proud  defiance,  seated  on  the  same  horse  which 
George  II.  had  ridden  at  the  battle  of  Dettingen, 
what  were  the  Pretender's  feelings  ?  One  Jacobite 
courtier  at  least  penetrated  his  disguise,  and  ap- 
proaching whispered  in  his  ear :  "  Your  Royal  High- 
ness is  the  last  of  all  mortals  whom  I  should  expect 
to  see  here."  Charles  Edward  answered  quietly : 
"  It  is  curiosity  that  led  me.  But,"  he  added,  "  I 
assure  you  that  the  person  who  is  the  object  of 
this  pomp  and  magnificence  is  the  person  I  envy 
the  least."  "  What,"  comments  Hume  with  daring 
picturesqueness — "  what  if  the  Pretender  had  taken 
up  Dymock's  gauntlet  ? "  l 

1  Letter  to  Sir  John  Pringle,  10th  February  1773. 



George's  person  and  demeanour  at  the  Corona- 
tion was  a  general  theme  of  admiration.  His 
manner  of  ascending  and  seating  himself  on  his 
throne  after  his  coronation  was  declared  to  be  far 
superior  to  any  acting  on  the  stage.  Not  even 
Booth  himself,  celebrated  for  his  majesty  in  the 
"  Spectator,"  ever  ascended  the  throne  with  such 
grace  and  dignity.  One  deeply  impressive  circum- 
stance there  was.  When  George  approached  the 
Communion  Table  to  receive  the  Sacrament,  he 
asked  the  Archbishop  whether  he  should  not  lay 
aside  his  crown  ?  The  Archbishop  was  nonplussed. 
He  asked  the  Bishop  of  Rochester,  but  neither  of 
them  knew  or  could  say  what  had  been  the  usual 
form.  George  decided  for  himself — "  humility  best 
became  such  a  solemn  act  of  devotion" — he  took 
off  his  crown  and  laid  it  by  his  side. 

"  His  countenance,"  writes  Mrs.  Montagu,  who 
saw  the  King  pass  from  the  Abbey  to  the  Hall, 
"expressed  a  benevolent  joy  in  the  vast  concourse 
of  people  and  their  loud  acclamations,  but  there 
was  not  the  least  air  of  pride  or  insolent  exulta- 
tion. In  the  religious  offices  his  Majesty  behaved 
with  the  greatest  reverence  and  deepest  attention. 
He  pronounced  with  earnest  solemnity  his  engage- 
ment to  his  people,  and  when  he  was  to  receive 
the  Sacrament  he  pulled  off  his  crown.  How  happy 
that  in  the  day  of  the  greatest  worldly  pomp  he 
should  remember  his  duty  to  the  King  of  kings! 
According  to  the  same  authority,  the  King's  know- 
ledge of  precedents  and  his  retentive  memory 
abled  him  more  than  once  during  the  day  to  set 
not  only  the  Peers,  but  the  heralds,  right  in  the| 


exercise  of  their  respective   duties,  "  which  he   did 
with  great  good-humour."  * 

But  public  rejoicings  were  not  destined  long  to 
endure.  Brilliant  ceremonies  and  private  felicity 
could  not  disguise  either  from  George  or  his  most 
intimate  advisers  the  alarming  unrest  and  dissatisfac- 
tion of  the  inhabitants  of  the  capital.  Pitt's  self- 
revelation  stemmed  only  for  the  moment  the  tide  of 
his  popularity.  That  popularity  had  acquired  too 
great  an  impetus  now  to  be  checked.  The  Princess 
Dowager-Bute  legend  having  taken  root,  grew  with 
incredible  vigour.  Insubordination  followed  fleet  on 
the  heels  of  animosity. 

Pitt  had  said  that  he  represented  the  people.  If 
the  people  were  to  be  deprived  of  Pitt,  to  whom 
were  they  to  look  for  a  leader  ?  A  demagogue  was 
indeed  just  showing  his  head ;  one  far  different  in 
character  from  the  "  Great  Commoner,"  but  as  a 
demagogue  not  less  successful — John  Wilkes.  A 
man  of  talents  and  wit  and  no  morals,  Wilkes, 
pressed  hard  by  his  creditors,  soon  found  a  profitable 
metier  in  attacking  the  King  and  all  the  Court 
party  who  wanted  peace. 

In  the  prosecution  of  the  war  was  bound  up  the 
fortunes  of  the  City  of  London.  The  merchants  of 
London  commemorated  the  rule  of  their  revered 
statesman  as  one  "  which  united  commerce  with 
and  made  it  flourish  by  war."  A  free  and  unfettered 
commerce  was  as  yet  only  a  theory.  The  Navigation 
Laws  were  rigorously  enforced,  foreign  conquests 
being  considered  only  valuable  as  affording  markets 
for  home  manufactures  and  employment  for  British 

I  l  Mary  Wortley  Montagu's  Letters. 

F  8l 


shipping.  The  rabble  of  the  city  received  joyfully 
the  denunciations  of  peace  and  Bute,  and  cries  were 
again  raised  for  Pitt  and  war. 

Five  weeks  after  Pitt's  resignation  the  common 
council  of  London  passed  a  vote  of  thanks  to  the 
ex-Minister.  Other  towns  soon  followed  with 
addresses  of  confidence.  Pitt,  realising  the  narrow- 
ness of  his  escape,  set  himself  intrepidly  to  recover 
what  prestige  he  had  lost.  On  Lord  Mayor's 
Day  George  and  his  Queen  went  in  state  to  dine 
at  the  Guildhall.  Pitt  resolved  to  join  in  the  royal 
procession.  With  a  keen  eye  for  stage  effect,  and 
a  knowledge  of  the  weakness  of  human  nature  and 
of  human  passions  and  prejudices,  he  set  forth,  not 
in  the  coach  and  six  with  blue  and  silver  liveries  in 
which  he  had  announced  to  George  his  accession,  but 
in  a  humble  equipage  more  suited  to  a  respectable 
town  councillor  than  to  one  of  his  rank  and  affluence. 
This  hypocritical  parade  had  its  effect.  The  gorgeous 
liveries  of  the  King  and  Queen  were  viewed  with 
indifference,  those  of  the  Earl  of  Bute  with  positive 
insult.  Before  the  day  was  over  Pitt  had  the 
satisfaction  of  knowing  that  his  bid  for  the  huzzas  | 
of  the  populace  had  not  been  in  vain.  It  is  only 
fair  to  add  that  the  "  Great  Commoner  "  was  after- 
wards thoroughly  ashamed  of  the  part  he  had  tak< 
in  that  day's  proceedings,  and  threw  the  blame  upoi 
Temple  and  the  virulent  Beckford.1 

1  "  My  old  friend,"  wrote  Lord  Ly ttelton,  "  was  once  a  skilfi 
courtier ;  but  since  he  himself  has  attained  a  kind  of  royalty,  h( 
seems  more  attentive  to  support  his  own  majesty  than  to  pay  th< 
necessary  regards  to  that  of  his  sovereign." 



Meanwhile  what  of  the  peace  negotiations  ?  For 
several  weeks  after  Pitt's  resignation  the  British 
Ambassador  at  Madrid  continued  certain  that  the 
intentions  of  that  Court  were  friendly.  And  there 
is  no  doubt  that  war  was  far  from  the  Spanish  mind. 
Nevertheless  Egremont  and  his  colleagues  were  not 
going  to  fall  into  a  possible  trap.  They  desired  an 
explicit  declaration  that  no  hostility  to  Britain  was 
meditated.  Was  the  Family  Compact  wholly  inno- 
cent so  far  as  Britain  was  concerned  ?  Before  these 
instructions  could  reach  Spain  the  Court  of  Madrid 
was  filled  with  anger  at  the  news  that  a  declaration 
of  war  had  been  proposed  by  Pitt.  They  had 
always  considered  themselves  the  aggrieved  party, 
and  could  not  imagine  upon  what  ground  the  English 
would  commence  hostilities.  The  Spanish  Prime 
Minister  affirmed  that  Great  Britain  was  intoxicated 
with  successes,  that  she  was  bent  on  ruining  France  in 
order  to  seize  all  the  transatlantic  Spanish  possessions. 
"  If,"  he  added  warmly,  "  my  King's  dominions  are 
to  be  overwhelmed,  he  shall  not  be  a  passive  victim." 
He  would  advise  the  King  at  least  to  arm  his 
subjects  and  defend  their  rights.  Spanish  historians 
inform  us  that  Spain,  at  this  critical  juncture,  was 
perfectly  sincere ;  that  Chatham's  unbounded  thirst 
for  conquest  drove  Spain  into  war.  Whatever  Spain's 
premeditation,  her  King's  anger  was  now  leading 
her  to  hostilities.  The  Spanish  Minister  continued 
to  complain  of  the  haughtiness  and  discord  which 
still,  in  spite  of  Pitt's  supersession,  continued  to 
characterise  the  British  attitude.  France,  egging 
on  Spain,  refused  to  accept  any  peace. 



In  a  state  of  great  agitation  was  the  public  mind 
when  the  new  Parliament  met.  The  King  in  his 
speech  from  the  throne,  after  alluding  to  his  happy 
marriage,  adverted  to  the  war.  Neither  George 
nor  his  Ministry  were  for  peace  at  any  price.  But 
Egremont  dared  not  set  himself  against  the  clamor- 
ous war-party.  George  spoke  in  animated  terms 
of  the  successes  which  distinguished  the  year,  and 
was  persuaded  that  both  Houses  would  agree  with 
him  in  opinion  that  the  steady  exertion  of  the  most 
vigorous  efforts,  in  every  part  where  the  enemy 
might  still  be  attacked  with  advantage,  could  alone 
be  productive  of  such  a  peace  as  might  with  reason 
be  expected.  "  It  is  therefore,"  he  continued,  "  my 
fixed  resolution,  with  your  concurrence  and  support, 
to  carry  on  the  war  in  the  most  effectual  manner  for 
the  advantage  of  my  kingdoms,  and  to  maintain  to 
the  utmost  of  my  power  the  good  faith  and  honour 
of  my  crown,  by  adhering  firmly  to  the  engagements 
entered  into  with  my  allies.  In  this  I  will  persevere 
until  my  enemies,  moved  by  their  own  losses  and 
distresses,  and  touched  with  the  miseries  of  so  many 
nations,  shall  yield  to  the  equitable  conditions  of  an 
honourable  peace,  in  which  case,  as  well  as  in  the 
prosecution  of  the  war,  no  consideration  whatever 
shall  make  me  depart  from  the  true  interest  of 
my  kingdoms,  and  the  honour  and  dignity  of  my 
crown."  l 

On  Christmas  Eve  the  Spanish  Ambassador  in 
London  was  recalled.  Before  leaving  he  delivered 
a  memorial  to  the  British  Ministry,  declaring  that 

1   Parliamentary  History. 


the  horrors  in  which  the  two  nations  were  going  to 
plunge  themselves  were  owing  solely  to  the  pride 
and  immeasurable  ambition  of  Pitt.  "  The  King 
of  Spain,"  the  Spanish  Ambassador  went  on,  "  had 
offered  to  waive  the  Family  Compact  for  the 
present  if  it  was  found  an  impediment  to  peace ; 
but  when  the  French  Minister  continued  his  nego- 
tiation, without  mentioning  Spain,  and  proposed 
conditions  greatly  to  the  advantage  and  honour  of 
England,  Pitt,  to  the  astonishment  of  the  universe, 
rejected  them  with  disdain,  and  showed  his  ill-will 
against  Spain,  to  the  great  scandal  of  the  British 

Pitt  or  no  Pitt,  then,  it  was  to  be  war.  But 
those,  both  within  and  without  the  realm,  who 
supposed  that  because  Pitt's  hand  was  no  longer 
on  the  helm  British  policy  would  be  craven,  were 
soon  convinced  of  their  error.  Egremont,  New- 
castle, Grenville,  Bute,  and  the  King  were  agreed 
now  that  hostilities  were  inevitable,  and  on  the 
4th  of  January  Britain  declared  war  against  Spain. 
Two  days  before,  George  himself,  addressing  his 
Council,  said :  "  Gentlemen,  I  see  that  peace  can 
no  longer  be  maintained."  A  fortnight  later  Parlia- 
ment again  met.  It  was  announced  that  Bute  was 
to  speak.  The  benches  and  galleries  were  thronged 
to  see  how  "  the  Favourite,"  as  he  was  called,  would 
conduct  himself  on  this  occasion.  Many  expected 
and  hoped  for  a  failure.  But  the  Earl,  both  in  his 
presence  and  manner  of  oratory,  gave  the  lie  to 
their  expectations.  He  showed  himself  to  be  pre- 
cisely what  he  was,  a  man  of  sense  and  acuteness, 




fully  imbued  with  the  gravity  and  responsibility  of 
his  own  office,  and  able  to  deliver  his  sentiments 
with  propriety. 

It  was  inevitable  that  however  ably  the  Ministry 
might  conduct  the  war,  the  credit  of  any  successes 
that  followed  were  sure  to  be  attributed  to  Pitt,  and 
successes  came.  In  February  Martinique  was  cap- 
tured from  the  French.  The  conquest  of  Granada, 
St.  Lucia,  and  St.  Vincent  followed ;  Havana  was 
taken  from  Spain  after  a  siege  of  over  two  months. 
Pitt  received  congratulations  from  his  friends  on  his 
victory  at  Martinique  six  months  after  he  had  left 
the  Cabinet,  and  he  received  the  congratulations  with 

The  frequent  Cabinet  meetings  rendered  it  but 
too  clear  that  the  redundant  member  was  the  old 
Duke  of  Newcastle.  He  was  timid  and  a  time- 
server,  and,  although  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury, 
soon  realised  how  powerless  he  was  in  the  Govern- 
ment. How  desperately  he  clung  even  to  the  dregs 
of  power  was  known  to  all.  It  is  certain  that  the 
King  could  not  give  his  confidence  to  a  man  of  his 
character.  Newcastle  was  not  quite  the  motley  fool 
Macaulay  has  painted.  He  had  certain  abilities, 
although  lacking  any  wide  grasp  of  affairs.  George 
had  always  treated  him  with  studied  courtesy,  if  his 
recommendations  were  not  always  followed.  At 
length  when  the  Ministry  decided  to  withdraw  the 
heavy  subsidy  which  Britain  paid  to  the  King  of 
Prussia,  Newcastle  resolved  to  make  a  stand.  He 
said  he  could  not  consent  to  see  the  subsidy  with- 
drawn. Unsupported  by  any  of  his  colleagues,  the 


Duke  declared  unless  his  opinion  was  respected 
and  the  money  raised,  he  would  resign.  "  Believe 
me,"  answered  Bute  with  sincerity,  "  if  your 
Grace  resigns,  the  peace  will  be  retarded."  New- 
castle, who  hoped  that  his  threat  would  have 
produced  a  request  for  him  to  continue  in  office, 
went  to  St.  James's  and  demanded  an  audience. 
He  gravely  announced  his  unalterable  resolution  to 
relinquish  his  station  if  the  subsidy  to  Prussia  was 
not  continued.  "  I  regret  such  a  determination, 
my  Lord  Duke,"  replied  the  King,  "  because  I  am 
persuaded  that  your  Grace  wishes  well  to  my 
service."  Newcastle  hung  on  for  nearly  two  weeks 
longer,  hoping  that  overtures  would  be  made  to 
him.  But  George  was  convinced  that  to  conduct 
the  war  without  the  aid  of  the  funds  hitherto  paid 
to  Prussia  would  entail  too  great  a  sacrifice  from 
the  kingdom.1  Newcastle  resigned. 

It  was  a  bitter  draught  that  the  retiring  states- 
man had  to  drink,  he  who  for  nearly  half  a  century 
had  dispensed  patronage  and  showered  favours  on 
his  dependants,  to  find  so  few  followers  in  the 
hour  of  his  adversity.  The  Bishops  at  least  ought 
to  have  supported  him.  The  control  of  the  ecclesi- 
astical patronage  had  always  been  in  his  hands. 
There  was  hardly  one  Bishop  on  the  Bench  who  did 
not  owe  either  his  appointment  or  his  preferment 

1  The  debt  was  rapidly  increasing,  and  the  estimates  had  arisen 
an  alarming  extent.     The  total  sum  granted  by  Parliament  for 
L76l   was  more   than  nineteen  millions.      The   British   forces  in 
ifferent  parts  of  the  world  amounted   to  no  less  than    110,000 
)ldiers  and  70,000  seamen,  besides  60,000  German  auxiliaries  in 
British  pay. — Lecky,  vol.  iii.  p.  29. 



to  Newcastle.     Two  Bishops   came   to  his  farewell 

"The  Duke  of  Newcastle,"  wrote  a  contemporary, 
"  has  spent  half  a  million  and  made  the  fortunes  of 
five  hundred  men,  and  yet  is  not  allowed  to  have  one 
real  friend."     With  all  his  faults,  that  of  venality 
was  not  Newcastle's.     Jobbery  and  corruption  was 
his  hobby,  but  he  did  nothing  to  advance  his  own 
pecuniary  interests.     It  is  said  that  he  permitted  his 
estate,  which  had  been  worth  £25,000  a  year,  to  sink 
to  the  value  of  £6000  on  his  retirement  from  office. 
Well  aware  of  this  circumstance,  and  of  the  trait  it 
denoted  in  the  character  of  the  fallen  statesman,  the 
King  himself  was   not   ungrateful.     "  I    fear,"   said 
George,  in  the  course  of  their  final  interview,  "  that 
your  Grace's  private  fortune  has  been  diminished  for 
your  zeal  for  the  House  of  Hanover."     He  proposed 
to  confer  on  him  a  pension  corresponding  with  his 
long  service  and  high  rank.     "  It  would  be  doing  no 
more,"  delicately  remarked  the  young  King,  "than 
discharging   a   debt   due   to    your   Grace   from   the 
Crown."     It  is  to  Newcastle's  credit  that  the  boon 
was  declined.      If  his  private  fortune,  he  told  the 
King,    had    suffered    by    his    loyalty,    it    was    his 
pleasure,  his  glory  and  his  pride.     If  no  longer  able 
to  serve  his  country,  he  would  at  least  not  be  a 

1  "  The  Duke  of  Newcastle/'  writes  Mrs.  Montagu's  sister,  "  had 
a  very  numerous  levee,  but  somebody  observed  to  him  that  there 
were  but  two  Bishops  present ;  but  he  is  said  to  have  replied  that 
'  Bishops,  like  other  men,  were  apt  to  forget  their  maker.'  I  think 
this  has  been  said  for  him,  or  the  resignation  of  power  has  much 
brightened  his  understanding,  for  whatever  he  is  accused,  the  crime 
of  wit  will  never  be  laid  to  his  chanre." 


(From  the  Portrait  by  Nathaniel  Dance) 


burden  to  her.  His  Majesty's  approbation,  he  added, 
was  the  only  reward  he  asked.1  Pitt,  reading  of 
this  abnegation,  may  almost  have  been  pardoned 
a  sneer. 

One  reason  alone  now  existed  why  Bute  should 
not  step  forward  and  ostensibly  assume  the  office 
vacated  by  Newcastle.  The  reason  is  an  eternal 
and  inseparable  one  connected  with  politics.  It 
has  nothing  to  do  with  the  ability  of  the  candidate, 
the  purity  of  his  intentions,  or  the  real  good  of 
the  commonwealth.  It  concerns  wholly  the  caprice 
and  prejudice  of  the  mob.  Fortunately  their  enmity 
like  their  favour  is  evanescent.  A  man  of  tough 
fibre  can  outlast  their  contumely.  A  man  of  great 
delicacy  shrinks  from  their  applause.  Looking  back 
now  upon  the  politicians  of  that  time,  Bute  seems  to 
us  almost  if  not  quite  the  worthiest.  He  was  well 
read,  a  clear,  sane  thinker,  incorruptible ;  a  real 
patriot.  But  he  was  no  master  of  those  demagogic 
arts  in  which  Pitt  and  Wilkes  excelled ;  neither 
his  tongue  nor  his  pen  could  scatter  vitriol,  and 
he  suffered  under  a  disadvantage  which  the  states- 
men of  our  own  day  have  overcome  with  triumphant 
success,  the  disadvantage  of  being  a  Scotsman. 

Bute  and  his  royal  master  had  many  serious 
colloquies  at  this  time  and  on  this  point.  George 
saw  the  danger,  Bute  was  not  blind  to  it,  but  he 
trusted  that  his  own  acts  would  justify  his  ambition. 
That  he  could  overcome  the  popular  prejudice 
gainst  him  he  believed.  He  therefore  accepted  the 
ils  of  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury,  and  George 

1   Ellis's  Original  Letters,  vol.  iv.  p.  445. 



Grenville  became  Secretary  of  State.  Sir  Francis 
Dashwood  was  appointed  Chancellor  of  the  Ex- 
chequer, although  Dashwood's  private  character 
rendered  him  little  acceptable  to  the  virtuous  young 

Bute  threw  himself  ardently  into  the  first  part  of 
the  task  nearest  and  dearest  to  the  heart  of  King 
George  and  himself:  peace  with  honour.  "If,"  to 
use  his  own  words,  "  I  am  ambitious,  my  ambition  is 
only  to  establish  a  pure  Government  on  an  enduring 
basis."  One  of  the  leading  members  of  the  Whig 
party,  the  Duke  of  Bedford,  not  less  zealous  for 
peace,  was  sent  as  Ambassador  to  Paris,  to  arrange 
the  preliminaries  of  a  treaty  with  the  French 

It  has  been  no  part  of  our  intention  to  recount 
the  history  of  the  Seven  Years'  War.  So  far  as 
Britain  was  concerned  it  had  been  effected  with  con- 
spicuous success.  It  added  Canada  to  the  Empire. 
Unhappily  the  numerous  conquests  and  victories 
themselves  proved  the  greatest  enemies  to  peace. 
That  martial  pride  of  the  democracy,  those  exagge- 
rated notions  of  the  national  prowess,  those  mani- 
festations of  the  "  jingo "  spirit,  which  to-day  we 
denominate  "  mafficking,"  were  fully  aroused.  When 
every  object  which  Britain  had  ever  hoped  to  attain 
by  the  war  had  been  achieved,  yet  the  idea  that 
Bute  should  enjoy  the  credit  of  making  a  peace  was 
odious  to  the  mob.  Faction,  secretly  but  vehemently 
egged  on  by  Pitt,  now  bent  all  its  strength  to  make 
peace  impossible.  A  recent  historian,  while  declaring 
that  there  could  be  no  doubt  that  the  terms  were 


extremely  advantageous  to  England,  yet  adds,  "  That 
if  the  peace  had  been  made  in  a  different  spirit, 
and  by  other  statesmen,  it  would  probably  have  been 
favourably  received." 1  The  King  wrote  to  the  Duke 
of  Bedford,  26th  October  :  "  The  best  despatch  I  can 
receive  from  you,  and  the  most  essential  to  my 
service,  will  be  these  preliminaries  signed.  May 
Providence,  in  compassion  to  human  misery,  give 
you  the  means  of  executing  this  great  and  noble 
work ;  and  be  assured  I  shall  never  forget  the  duty 
and  loyalty  you  show  to  me  in  achieving  this  crisis." 

Bute's  accession  to  the  post  of  first  Minister  was 
signalised  by  the  daily  increasing  violence  of  the 
mob.  More  than  once  they  broke  the  glasses  of  his 
hackney  chair.  They  followed  him  with  execra- 
tions ;  they  burnt  him  in  effigy ;  they  constantly 
associated  his  name  in  a  scandalous  manner  with  the 
Princess  Dowager.  In  the  capital  he  was  the  object 
of  universal  abuse  and  hatred.  Any  allusion  that 
could  be  twisted  into  a  reference  to  him  was  hissed 
by  the  playgoers.  A  gallows  supporting  a  jack-boot 
and  a  woman's  petticoat  was  carried  through  the 
crowded  streets. 

Once  the  preliminaries  were  signed,  Bute  needed 
all  the  marks  of  confidence  which  his  sovereign  was 
able  to  bestow  upon  him  to  encourage  him  to  face 
the  rising  storm.  Perhaps  those  very  marks  of  the 
King's  friendship  and  confidence  did  more  harm  than 
good  with  the  people.  Benevolent  convictions  and 
incorruptibility  do  not  always  make  friendships. 
Although  apparently  surrounded  by  a  strong  band 

1  Lecky,  Eighteenth  Century. 



of  political  associates,  Bute  was  really  facing  the 
storm  alone.  "  I  own,"  he  wrote  to  Melcombe — "  I 
own,  and  without  blushing,  I  have  been  very  un- 
fortunate in  the  means  I  have  for  years  taken  of 
cementing  friendship  and  procuring  attachments; 
others,  with  much  less  trouble,  perhaps  without  my 
sincerity,  succeed  better  ;  but  I  repine  not.  Con- 
scious of  my  own  feelings,  conscious  of  deserving 
better  treatment,  I  shall  go  on,  though  single  and 
alone,  to  serve  my  king  and  country  in  the  best 
manner  my  poor  talents  will  allow  me,  happy,  too 
happy,  when  the  heavy  burthen  that  I  bear  shall 
be  removed  and  placed  on  other  shoulders." 

To  the  City  of  London  peace  on  any  terms  was 
unacceptable.  The  very  mention  of  Bute's  Peace 
Treaty  sent  Beckford  and  his  aldermen  into  a  frenzy. 
A  successful  maritime  war  had  brought  huge  guer- 
dons to  the  city — to  the  country  only  burdens. 
The  vast  expenditure  upon  the  war  had  filled 
the  coffers  of  the  merchants,  while  the  rest  of 
•the  nation  languished,  and  pressgangs  roamed  the 
countryside.  The  capital,  then,  presumed  to  dictate 
a  continuance  of  the  war  to  the  King  and  his 
Ministry.  "  This  is  Pitt's  war,"  was  the  cry ;  "  by 
concluding  a  peace  you  undermine  Pitt's  plans 
and  sacrifice  national  honour  to  the  safety  of  the 

It  seemed  important  for  the  new  Lord  Mayor 
to  be  a  pronounced  anti-peace  man,  and  a  nominee 
and  friend  of  Pitt.  William  Beckford  was  a  wealthy 
and  choleric  Jamaica  merchant,  of  a  character  chiefly 
distinguished  by  an  uncompromising  turbulence,  and 


an  intellect  which  had  sedulously  avoided  any  schol- 
astic contamination.  He  personally  instigated  in- 
numerable attacks  on  the  Ministry,  which  were 
issued  from  the  Press.  He  advised  the  most  seditious 
speeches  indulged  in  by  the  aldermen  and  members 
of  the  common  council  of  London. 

John  Wilkes,  too,  began  to  show  his  hand  in  the 
North  Briton,  and  his  scurrilous  attacks  on  Bute 
and  the  Scotch  were  read  by  thousands.  In  the 
fifth  number  of  this  notorious  production,  published 
in  1762,  Wilkes  published  his  ironical  dedication  to 
a  supposed  re -issue  of  the  "  Tragedy  of  Mortimer." 
With  great  audacity  he  addressed  this  composition 
to  Lord  Bute,  affecting  to  discover  a  striking  con- 
trast between  the  two  Ministers  in  the  reigns  respec- 
tively of  Edward  III.  and  George  III.  All  the 
current  scandal,  all  the  prejudice,  all  the  falsehoods  of 
the  day  were  carefully  garnered  up  by  Wilkes,  and 
set  forth  with  cruel  zest. 

A   weapon   there   was   ready    to    the   Minister's 
hand,  although  he  shrank  from  using  it.      Antici- 
pating the  meeting  of  Parliament  and  the  opposition 
which  the  treaty   was  bound   to   evoke,    Bute   had 
called  Henry  Fox  to  his  councils.     Fox  was  an  old 
opponent  of  Pitt.     He  was  able  and  courageous,  and 
under  no  illusion  as  to  the  temper  of  the  country, 
is  was  the  wisdom  of  the   serpent,  and  he  spoke 
)lainly  to   Bute.     There  was  no  way,  he   said,   by 
rhich   opposition  could  be  so  effectually  disarmed 
by  bribery.     He  knew  the  times.     The  men  who 
re  decrying  the   peace  were   only   insisting  on  a 
>rice  before  they  voted  for  it.     It  was  the  means  by 



which  Walpole  had  given  England  many  years  of 
tranquillity.  Bute,  sick  at  heart,  revolted,  and  told 
the  King.  Young  as  he  was,  George  was  already 
disillusioned ;  he  felt  that  Fox  was  right.  He  too 
hated  the  expedient,  but  it  was  forced  upon  him, 
and  he  gave  way.  "We  must  call  in  bad  men," 
the  King  said  to  George  Grenville,  "  to  govern  bad 
men." l  We  must  impugn  the  necessity,  not  the 
honest  men  it  mastered. 

Grenville  was  induced  to  yield  up  his  place  as 
Leader  of  the  House  of  Commons  to  Fox.  This  he 
did  with  an  ill  grace,  consenting  to  exchange  his  post 
of  Secretary  of  State  for  that  of  First  Lord  of  the 
Admiralty,  on  the  understanding  that  when  the  peace 
had  been  carried  he  would  be  rewarded  with  the 
Premiership.  The  seals  were  not  conferred  upon 
Fox.  He  preferred  to  retain  the  lucrative  Pay 
Office,  and  they  were  accordingly  given  to  the 
Earl  of  Halifax.  Fox's  reward  was  to  be  a  peerage. 
"  His  Majesty,"  wrote  Fox  to  Bedford,  "  was  in  great 
concern  lest  a  good  peace  in  a  good  House  of  Com- 
mons should  be  lost,  and  his  authority  disgraced  for 
want  of  a  proper  person  to  support  his  honest 
measures  and  keep  his  closet  from  that  force  with 
which  it  was  so  threatened.  I  was  that  person  who 
could  do  it." 

It  never  seems  to  have  dawned  upon  Fox,  or  if 
it  did  he  put  it  by  with  cynical  levity,  that  there 
were  few  politicians,  even  in  that  day,  who  would 
have  cared,  even  for  so  good  an  end,  to  engage 
in  such  an  orgy  of  flagitious  corruption.  Money 

1   Grenville  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  452. 



bribes  were  freely  distributed.  Peerages  were  con- 
ferred on  those  who  disdained  money  bribes. 

It  was  natural  that  the  King  should  resort  to 
every  expedient,  and  put  forward  every  influence  at 
his  command,  to  minimise  opposition  and  to  procure 
the  success  of  the  measure  which  he  had  so  dearly  at 
heart,  and  by  which  he  believed  the  whole  realm 
would  benefit.  Those  who  opposed  peace  could 
hardly  hope  to  enjoy  his  favour.  The  pens  of  several 
able  writers  were  engaged  to  offset  the  influence  of 
Wilkes  and  his  friends.  Hogarth,  appointed  sergeant- 
painter  to  the  King,  drew  a  powerful  cartoon 
showing  Europe  in  flames,  while  Pitt  with  a  pair  of 
bellows  stimulated  the  conflagration.  Around  him 
in  this  print,  which  Hogarth  called  "  The  Times/' 
the  aldermen  of  London  were  shown  humbly  worship- 
ping Pitt,  who  had  said  in  one  of  his  speeches  "  that 
he  would  rather  live  on  Cheshire  cheese  than  submit 
to  the  enemies  of  England."  A  huge  Cheshire 
cheese  therefore,  with  £3000  inscribed  upon  it,  in 
allusion  to  Pitt's  pension,  was  hung  about  his  neck. 
While  the  ex-Ministers  fed  the  flames,  and  the  King 
of  Prussia  fiddled  placidly,  English  soldiers  and  sailors 
led  by  Bute  endeavoured  to  extinguish  them. 

Parliament  no  sooner  met  than  the  success  of 
Fox's  policy  was  manifest.  In  the  House  of  Lords, 
although  many  objections  were  made  to  the  pre- 
liminaries, and  much  animosity  shown  to  Bute,  the 
Government  won  without  a  division.  The  Prime 
Minister  defended  his  own  conduct  in  terms  of  great 
decorum,  and  considerably  raised  himself  as  an  orator 
in  the  opinion  of  the  House.  Not  only  did  he  avow 



himself  the  warm  promoter  of  the  Peace  of  Paris,  but 
said  he,  "  I  could  wish  that  my  having  contributed 
to  it  may  be  engraven  on  my  tomb  ! " 

In  the  House  of  Commons  Pitt  replied  to  Fox's 
defence  of  the  peace.      He  came   into  the   House 
swathed  in  flannel,  a  conspicuous — perchance  a  too 
conspicuous — martyr  to  the  gout.     His  speech  lasted 
over  three  hours,  and  covered  every  possible  objection 
to  the  treaty.     He  declared  that  though  he  was  at 
that  instant  suffering  under  the  most  excruciating 
torture,  yet  he  determined  at  the  hazard  of  his  life 
to  attend  that  day,  to  raise  up  his  voice,  his  hand, 
his  arm,  against  the  preliminary  articles  of  a  treaty 
which  obscured  all  the  glories  of  the  war,  surrendered 
the  dearest  interests  of  the  nation,  and  sacrificed  the 
public   faith  by   abandoning   our   allies !      He   first 
challenged    the    Ministry   to    compare    the    present 
treaty  with  the  terms  he  could  have  obtained.     He 
proceeded  to  analyse  every  part  of  the  stipulations, 
which  he  stigmatised,   in  general,  with  unqualified 
censure.     The  only  particulars  which  met  his  appro- 
bation were  the  evacuation  of  Canada  by  the  French, 
and   the  restitution   of  Minorca.      He    lauded    the 
German  connection.     The  desertion  of  the  King  of 
Prussia,  the  most  magnanimous  ally  this  country  ever  i 
had,  was  insidious,  tricking,  base,  and  treacherous,  j 
In  brief,  the  terms  of  the  proposed  treaty  had  in) 
them  the  seeds  of  future  war.     The  peace  was  in-j 
secure,  because  it  restored  the  enemy  to  her  former! 
greatness ;  the  peace  was  inadequate,  because  the  places 
retained  were  no  equivalent  for  those  surrendered.1 

1  Adolphus,  vol.  i.  pp.  98,  99. 


Pitt's  hysterical  scolding  fell  on  deaf  ears.  Even 
if  the  treaty  was  odious  to  them,  the  most  uncom- 
promising legislators  had  already  the  best  of  reasons 
for  voting  as  their  sovereign  wished.  Fox  had  done 
his  work  well,  and  the  Government  majority  was 
319  to  65.  Cessation  of  arms  had  already  been 
proclaimed,  and  on  the  10th  of  February  1763  the 
Treaty  of  Paris  was  ratified.  That  peace  which  the 
young  King  looked  forward  to  with  such  eagerness 
was  an  accomplished  fact. 

But  although  the  peace  had  been  carried  by  such 
a  huge  majority  in  the  House  of  Commons,  the 
clamour  outside  was  not  silenced.  The  enmity  of 
the  great  Whig  connection  had  now  reached  a  great 
height.  Of  the  Duke  of  Devonshire's  conduct  the 
King  expressed  his  opinion  very  plainly.  He  had 
good  reason  to  suspect  Devonshire  of  caballing  with 
Newcastle  against  the  Government,  for  George  had 
himself  one  morning  on  his  way  from  Kew  seen 
the  two  Dukes  together  in  the  same  chariot.  With 
further  testimony  to  the  ill-disposition  towards  him 
and  the  Duke,  the  King  at  a  meeting  of  the  Privy 
Council,  from  which  the  Prince  of  the  AVhigs  had 
absented  himself  for  some  time,  called  for  the  Council 
Book,  and  with  his  own  hand  struck  Devonshire  off 
the  list  of  councillors. 

During  the  eleven  months  of  Bute's  Ministry 
his  life  was  in  frequent  peril.  Much  as  he  had 
endured  to  bring  about  the  Peace  of  Paris,  with 
the  conclusion  of  hostilities  even  greater  difficulties 
were  to  be  faced.  Peace  brings  almost  as  many 
evils  in  its  train  as  war.  The  national  expenditure 

G  97 


was  prodigious.  New  taxes  were  imperative.  Dash- 
wood,  the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer,  proposed  to 
lay  a  tax  upon  cyder.  Before  the  Act  was  passed 
many  districts  in  the  cyder  counties  were  almost  in 
a  state  of  insurrection.  In  vain  Grenville  defended 
the  measure.  "  It  was  the  late  war/'  he  said,  "  and 
the  profligate  extravagance  with  which  it  had  been 
carried  out,  that  occasioned  the  additional  taxation." 
The  proletariat  was  insensate ;  they  cared  nothing 
for  logic.  They  saw  only  the  tyranny  of  the  Scotch 
Earl,  "the  King's  Favourite." 

Bute  resolved  to  bend  before  the  storm.  His 
health  and  spirits  were  sadly  shaken.  From  the 
King  he  had  received  a  gracious  promise  that  he 
might  retire  as  soon  as  peace  was  secure.  "  His 
Majesty,"  wrote  the  Earl  to  Bedford,  "has  now 
been  reluctantly  induced  to  fulfil  that  promise. 
Need  I  make  use  of  many  arguments,"  he  added, 
"to  prevail  on  the  Duke  of  Bedford  to  assist  his 
young  sovereign  with  his  weight  and  name — that 
sovereign,  who  has  not  a  wish  but  what  terminates 
in  this  country's  happiness." * 

Such  a  step,  which  surely  need  have  surprised 
no  one,  seems  nevertheless  to  have  occasioned  the 
utmost  astonishment.  His  enemies  seemed  to  think 
that  as  Bute  was  now  supreme,  he  would  proceed  to 
take  advantage  of  power.  His  disinterestedness  was 
to  them,  now  and  afterwards,  utterly  incomprehen- 
sible. The  resignation  took  place  on  the  8th  of 
April,  and  was  immediately  followed  by  that  of  Fox, 
who,  in  fulfilment  of  the  promise  made  him,  was 

1  Bedford  Correspondence,  iii.  223. 



made  a  Peer  under  the  title  of  Baron  Holland. 
Dashwood  was  also  raised  to  the  peerage  as  Baron 
Le  Despencer,  which  title  his  ancestors  had  formerly 

"  Lord  Bute,"  writes  Lord  Barrington,  "  resigned 
last  Friday.  He  will  have  no  office,  and  declares 
he  will  not  he  a  Minister  behind  the  curtain,  but 
give  up  business  entirely.  The  reasons  he  gives  for 
this  step  are  that  he  finds  the  dislike  taken  to  him 
has  lessened  the  popularity  which  the  King  had  and 
ought  to  have ;  that  he  hopes  his  retirement  will  make 
things  quiet  and  his  Majesty's  Government  easy. 
He  says  that  he  unwillingly  undertook  the  business 
of  a  Minister,  on  the  King's  absolute  promise  that  he 
might  retire  when  the  peace  should  be  made." * 

Bute  desired  neither  place  nor  pension.  He 
was  conscious  that  in  spite  of  his  honest  inten- 
tions he  had  utterly  failed,  not  only  in  gaining 
support  for  himself,  but  in  gaining  support  for  the 
King.  Writing  to  one  of  his  friends  on  the  eve 
of  his  retirement,  he  lets  us  into  the  secret  of  his 
predicament.  "Single,"  he  said,  "in  a  Cabinet  of 
my  own  forming ;  no  aid  in  the  House  of  Lords 
to  support  me,  except  two  Peers  (Lords  Denbigh 
and  Pomfret) ;  both  the  Secretaries  of  State  silent, 
and  the  Lord  Chief  Justice,  whom  I  myself  brought 
into  office,  voting  for  me,  yet  speaking  against 
me  ;  the  ground  I  tread  upon  is  so  hollow,  that 
I  am  afraid  not  only  of  falling  myself,  but  of 
involving  my  royal  master  in  my  ruin.  It  is  time 
for  me  to  retire  !  " 

1  Ellis's  Original  Letters,  vol.  iv.  p.  46l. 




GEORGE  had  been  no  passive  spectator  of  the  odium 
Bute  had  incurred  or  of  the  jeopardy  in  which  it 
placed  his  own  popularity.  It  grieved  him  that  his 
friend  had  failed  to  win  the  esteem  his  talents 
and  disinterestedness  merited,  that  he  should  have 
achieved  his  chief  political  object  at  so  great  a  price. 
But  he  was  not  blind  to  Bute's  shortcomings.  "  I 
found  him,"  he  afterwards  said,  "  unhappily  deficient 
in  political  firmness."  Forty  years  later  he  related 
that  Bute  had  come  in  a  panic,  followed  by  the  mob, 
to  St.  James's  to  dissuade  his  sovereign  from  going 
to  the  play.  In  that  moment  Bute  lost  sight  of 
George's  moral  and  physical  courage ;  but  the  re- 
buke he  then  received  brought  the  fact  promptly 
to  his  recollection. 

Gravely  and  in  silence  the  King  accepted  the 
seals  from  the  hand  of  the  disappointed  Earl.  On 
this  memorable  occasion,  we  can  see  these  two  men 
closeted  together  in  St.  James's.  A  great  weight 
of  misgiving  was  on  both  their  minds.  Sedition, 
rioting,  discontent,  clamoured  throughout  the  realm. 
The  suburbs  and  thoroughfares  of  the  metropolis 
were  infested  by  cut-purses  and  footpads.  In  the 
political  world  men  whose  standard  of  morals  was 

(A  Bute  and  Princess  Dowager  Caricature,  1762) 


hardly  superior  to  cut-purses  and  footpads  sought 
to  wrest  power  and  emolument  from  the  impover- 
ished nation.  This  was  the  moment  decreed  by 
Fate  for  the  ship  of  state  to  be  navigated  by  pilots 
the  captain  could  not  trust. 

On  the  one  hand  the  King  was  threatened  by  the 
factious  Whig  oligarchy,  the  leaders  of  which  stood 
sullenly  aside  waiting  his  compliance  with  their 
terms.  On  the  other  the  Tories  claimed  rights  long 
withheld  from  them  to  participate  in  his  councils, 
rights  which  their  abilities  did  not  warrant  his  ex- 
tending to  them.  There  were  besides  these  two 
factions  the  Whig  malcontents,  and  it  was  from  this 
coterie  George  must  perforce  choose  his  advisers. 

Ere  Bute  resigned  he  had  suggested  George 
Grenville  for  his  successor.  The  King  received  the 
suggestion  favourably ;  he  had  long  regarded  Gren- 
ville with  peculiar  approval.  "  I  told  his  Majesty," 
wrote  Grenville  afterwards,  "  that  I  came  into  his 
service  to  preserve  the  Constitution  of  my  country 
and  to  prevent  any  undue  and  unwarrantable  force 
being  put  upon  the  Crown."  Bute,  who  knew 
George's  intentions  pretty  well,  declared  that  the 
first  principle  in  the  King's  policy  was,  never  upon 
any  account  to  suffer  those  Ministers  of  the  late 
reign,  who  had  attempted  to  fetter  and  enslave 
him,  to  come  into  his  service  while  he  lived  to 
hold  the  sceptre.  Rather  than  take  these  men 
into  his  service  and  conduct  the  business  of  the 
realm,  as  it  had  been  conducted,  George  was  re- 
solved "  to  collect  every  other  force,  especialty  the 
followers  of  Mr.  Bedford  and  Fox,  to  give  him 



counsel  and  support,"  and  to  encourage  fully  all 
those  Whig  country  gentlemen  who,  without 
abandoning  any  political  principles,  would  consent 
to  support  the  Government.  Grenville  had  seceded 
from  the  leading  Whigs,  and  George  had  some 
reason  to  regard  him  as  having  Tory  predilections. 

Unlike  Bute,  Grenville  had  served  a  long 
apprenticeship  in  the  public  service.  He  was  a 
man  of  spotless  private  character,  a  scholar,  but 
no  orator,  fond  of  business,  methodical,  and  in- 
dustrious. A  younger  brother  of  Lord  Temple, 
he  was  brother-in-law  to  Pitt  and  Lord  Egremont. 
In  the  beginning  of  his  career  he  had  been  closely 
associated  with  Pitt  as  one  of  the  Patriots  opposed 
to  Walpole.  Grenville  had  held  office  with  his 
brother-in-law,  Pitt,  during  the  German  war. 
The  two  had  afterwards  quarrelled,  and  since 
then  the  rupture  had  been  increased  by  Grenville's 
denunciation  of  Pitt's  reckless  extravagance  and 

A  business  politician,  a  great  statesman  of  the 
second  class,  Burke  says  of  Grenville  that  "he  took 
public  business  not  as  a  duty  he  was  to  fulfil,  but 
as  a  pleasure  he  was  to  enjoy."  Than  he  there 
was  none  better  calculated  apparently  to  conduct 
the  King's  policy,  and  Grenville  accordingly  took 
office  as  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury  and  Chan- 
cellor of  the  Exchequer,  following  the  precedent 
set  by  Walpole  and  Pelham. 

Not  even  his  own  brother  and  brothers-in-law 
suspected  Grenville's  real  character  and  his  real  aims. 
According  to  Walpole  he  had  hitherto  been  known 


"  as  a  fatiguing  orator  and  an  indefatigable  drudge, 
more  likely  to  disgust  than  to  offend."  George  was 
grievously  mistaken  in  his  new  adviser.  Grenville 
had,  as  we  shall  see,  as  little  taken  the  measure  of 
his  sovereign. 

The  new  Prime  Minister  had  not  been  in  office  a 
month  before  events  occurred  which  put  his  tact  and 
statesmanship  to  the  test.  The  King's  Speech  at 
the  Prorogation  of  Parliament  on  19th  April  1763 
announced  that  no  change  would  be  made  in 
British  foreign  policy.  The  peace  had  been  con- 
cluded "  upon  conditions  honourable  to  my  Crown 
and  beneficial  to  my  people."  Britain  had  been 
the  means  of  securing  a  satisfactory  peace  for  the 
King  of  Prussia.  The  tone  of  the  speech  disgusted 
Pitt  and  his  friends,  particularly  Temple.  The 
passage  relating  to  the  King  of  Prussia  evoked 
their  special  indignation.  While  the  brothers-in-law 
were  together  discussing  the  King's  Speech,  John 
Wilkes  happened  to  call  on  Temple.  He  took  part 
in  their  discussions.  Stimulated  by  their  denuncia- 
tions, he  seized  his  pen  on  his  return  home,  and 
busied  himself,  concocting  the  famous  number  forty- 
five  of  the  North  Briton.  Wilkes  pronounced  the 
King's  Speech  to  be  "  the  most  abandoned  instance  of 
Ministerial  effrontery  ever  attempted  to  be  imposed 
upon  mankind."  He  wondered  that  the  King  could 

be  brought  to  give  the  sanction  of  his  sacred  name 
to  the  most  odious  measures  and  to  the  most  un- 
justifiable public  declarations  from  a  throne  ever 

unowned  for  truth,  honour,  and  unsullied  virtue." 
Wiikes  privately  avowed  his  motive.  It  was  "to 



try  how  far  it  was  practicable  to  carry  the  licentious- 
ness of  w'riting,  under  the  pretext  of  exercising  the 
liberty  of  the  Press." 

Hitherto,  although  the  King  and  Bute  had  not 
been  ignorant  of  the  grossness  of  the  attacks  launched 
against  the  Government,  yet  they  had  forborne  to 
take  action  against  Wilkes  and  the  North  Briton. 
Wilkes's  audacity  now  passed  the  limits  of  forbear- 
ance. The  King  was  represented  as  the  dupe  and 
slave  of  his  advisers,  a  mere  puppet  in  the  hands 
of  those  who  were  forcing  their  opinions  upon  him. 
There  was  scarcely  a  public  measure  which  Wilkes 
had  not  arraigned  and  ridiculed  with  coarse  invective 
and  ribaldry.  Grenville  took  the  paper  to  the  King, 
and  George  was  at  one  with  his  Minister  in  opining 
Wilkes  to  be  a  public  danger  who  ought  to  be 
punished  for  his  intemperance.  The  article  appeared 
on  the  23rd  April ;  two  days  later  the  law  officers,  Sir 
Fletcher  Norton  and  Charles  Yorke,  were  consulted. 
In  their  opinion  the  paper  was  "  a  most  infamous 
and  seditious  libel,  tending  to  inflame  the  minds 
and  alienate  the  people  from  his  Majesty,  and  to 
incite  them  to  traitorous  insurrection  against  the 

On  the  strength  of  this  opinion  Grenville  pro- 
ceeded on  a  course  of  action  which  was  to  involve 
his  Government  and  that  of  his  successors  in  a  most 
unfortunate  contest  between  John  Wilkes  and  the 
three  estates  of  the  realm,  one  to  have  the  gravest 
constitutional  consequences.  From  the  Secretary 
of  State's  office  a  warrant  was  issued  and  given  to 

four  messengers-in-ordinary  to  execute.     They  were 


instructed  to  make  strict  search  for  the  authors, 
printers,  and  publishers  of  the  treasonable  production, 
to  seize  them,  and  bring  them  before  the  Secretary  of 

It  is  unnecessary  again  to  detail  the  story  of  the 
proceedings  against  Wilkes,  who  was  finally  appre- 
hended and  put  in  the  Tower.  His  arrest  brought 
up  the  question  of  the  legality  of  general  warrants, 
and  this  by  degrees,  the  Opposition  fanning  the  flame, 
lent  Wilkes  national  importance.  No  one  could 
honestly  blame  the  Government  for  using  their 
power  to  punish  so  outrageous  a  libel  as  had  ap- 
peared in  the  North  Briton,  which  accused  the  King 
of  uttering  a  lie  from  the  throne.  During  a  Parlia- 
mentary debate  it  is  a  point  of  delicacy  when  the 
King's  Speech  is  under  discussion  to  consider  the 
speech  as  the  production  of  the  Minister.  But  when 
disgrace  the  Minister  the  sovereign  is  charged 
with  being  an  accomplice  in  a  charge  of  uttering  a 
ilsehood,  the  limitations  of  decency  have  been  ex- 

But  whether  the  general  warrant  on  which  Wilkes 
had  been  seized  were,  as  it  was  afterwards  pronounced, 
illegal  or  not,  no  one  could  blame  Grenville  and  his 
friends  from  resorting  to  it.  It  was  the  customary 
process,  and  had  been  frequently  made  use  of  both 
before  and  during  Grenville's  time  by  Pitt  himself. 

The  unspeakable  Temple  boldly  stood  forward  as 
rilkes's  patron,  visiting  him  in  the  Tower,  and  shar- 
ig  his  popularity,  to  the  huge  delight  of  the  London 
iob.     When  the  question  of  Wilkes's  arrest  duly 
une  up  before  the  Court  of  Common  Pleas,  Chief 



Justice  Pratt  and  his  colleagues  pronounced  it  to 
be  illegal  on  the  ground  of  Parliamentary  privilege. 
Pratt  pronounced  that  warrants  to  search  for  and 
carry  away  papers  on  the  charge  of  libel  were  con- 
trary to  law.  General  warrants  issued  by  the  Secre- 
tary of  State  without  specifying  the  name  of  the 
person  to  be  arrested  were  illegal.  Wilkes  was 
therefore  released,  and  amidst  the  applause  of  the 
multitude  a  special  jury  at  Guildhall  awarded  him 
£1000  damages  against  Wood,  the  Under- Secretary 
of  State. 

Temple's  behaviour  could  hardly  escape  notice 
by  the  King.  It  seemed  to  George  gratuitously 
offensive.  When  Wilkes  was  deprived  of  his  com- 
mission as  Colonel  in  the  Buckinghamshire  Militia, 
Temple  as  Lord-Lieutenant  of  the  county  had  to 
announce  that  resolution.  This  he  did  with  many 
superfluous  assurances  of  regret  and  complimentary 
testimonials.  For  this  disrespectful  conduct  Temple 
was  struck  off  the  list  of  Privy  Councillors,  and  dis- 
missed from  his  Lord-Lieutenancy. 

No  sooner  had  Wilkes  obtained  his  discharge  than 
he  wrote  a  scurrilous  letter  to  the  Secretaries  of  State, 
asserting  that  his  house  had  been  robbed,  and  that 
the  stolen  goods  were  in  their  possession.  To  render 
this  insult  mordant  and  more  contemptuous,  he 
printed  several  thousand  copies  of  the  letter  and 
distributed  them  freely.  The  best  course  for 
Grenville  would  have  been  to  treat  this  jeu  d*  esprit 
with  contempt.  But  by  his  furious  blundering  he 
only  gave  Wilkes  a  further  opportunity  to  practise 
his  ingenious  sword-play. 
1 06 


The  King  soon  became  utterly  disgusted  with 
the  conduct  of  his  Ministers.  To  establish  a  strong, 
vigorous  administration  making  for  the  peace  and 
prosperity  of  the  realm  was  his  first  aim.  During 
the  period  of  the  Wilkes  episode  the  capital  was 
more  than  ever  in  a  state  of  feverish  excitement. 
Mobs  numbering  thousands  paraded  the  streets  and 
even  surrounded  the  Palace  and  Westminster  Hall, 
yelling  and  emitting  execrations.  At  Exeter  and 
Bristol  the  magistrates  were  cowed  by  the  rioters, 
who  elsewhere  attempted  to  rescue  criminals  on  their 
way  to  execution,  carrying  their  violence  to  an 
unheard-of  height. 

Sending  for  Grenville,  George  told  him  plainly 
that  a  remedy  must  be  found  for  such  evils.  The 
mob,  he  said,  would  try  to  govern  him  next.  He 
frankly  announced  to  him  his  intention  to  discover 
some  other  source  of  strength  to  the  Government. 
The  late  Chancellor,  Hardwicke,  was  approached. 
Hardwicke,  however,  refused  to  take  any  office  with- 
out the  co-operation  of  Newcastle.  Newcastle,  for 
his  part,  declined  to  act  without  the  other  "great 
Whig  lords."  George  repudiated  such  a  suggestion. 
"  He  felt,"  he  said,  "  his  honour  was  at  stake,  and  he 
could  never  undertake  to  accept  a  party  *  in  gross.' " 
Grenville  and  his  two  colleagues,  Halifax  and  Egre- 
mont,  remonstrated  with  the  King.  Grenville  was 
almost  violent.  He  denied  that  he  and  his  friends 
rere  a  weak  combination,  that  they  had  done  the  best 
iey  could  under  the  circumstances ;  they  did  not 
[uire  reinforcement.  They  charged  George  with 
jcretly  communicating  with  Lord  Bute.  Ill  con- 



cealing  his  irritation  and  impatience,  George  said  he 
would  deliberate  the  matter  during  the  next  ten  days. 
He  repeated  that  he  believed  the  administration 
needed  strengthening,  that  matters  were  not  going  on 
as  well  as  they  should  in  the  interests  of  the  country. 
He  had  his  subjects  at  large  to  think  of  before  the 
interests  of  his  Ministers ;  but  should  he  decide  on 
retaining  all  of  them,  they  should  be  advised  at  the 
end  of  that  period  named. 

Grenville  spent  the  interval  in  the  country.  "  I 
have  heard  Grenville  is  at  Wotton,"  wrote  Charles 
Townshend ;  "  surely  he  should  be  prompt  when 
public  credit  labours,  and  he  either  mistakes  the 
subject  or  slights  the  difficulty.  This  man  has  crept 
into  a  situation  he  cannot  fill.  He  has  assumed  a 
personage  his  limbs  cannot  carry.  He  has  jumped 
into  a  wheel  he  cannot  turn.  The  summer  dream 
is  passing  away.  Cold  winter  is  coming  on  ;  and 
I  will  add  to  you  that  the  storm  must  be  stood, 
for  there  will  be  no  shelter  from  coalition  nor  any 
escape  by  compromise.  There  has  been  too  much 
insolence  in  the  use  of  power ;  too  much  inj  ustice 
to  others  ;  too  much  calumny  spread  at  every  turn." * 

Egremont,  Pitt's  successor,  died  suddenly  in 
August,  and  when  Grenville  returned  from  his  rural 
retreat  he  called  at  Buckingham  House,  only  to 
find  the  King  closeted  with  Pitt.  Pitt  had  made 
no  secret  of  this  visit.  He  had  gone  through  the 
Mall  in  his  well-known  sedan  chair  at  high  noon. 
He  was  received  very  graciously  by  the  King,  who 
listened  to  him  for  no  less  than  three  hours  with 

1  Townshend  MS. 
1 08 


great  patience  and  attention.  Pitt  descanted  on 
the  "odious  peace,"  the  articles  which  had  been 
omitted,  and  the  improvements  he  thought  neces- 
sary. He  harangued  his  sovereign  on  both  the 
foreign  and  domestic  state  of  the  nation,  and 
specified  the  great  Whig  families  who  had  been 
driven  from  his  Majesty's  service  whom  it  would 
be  for  his  interest  to  restore.  George  bore  it  all 
patiently,  making  no  objection  to  any  of  the  state- 
ments, except  to  remark  that  his  honour  must  be 
preserved.  He  finally  commanded  Pitt  to  wait 
upon  him  again  two  days  later. 

Meanwhile  Grenville  gained  the  King's  ear.  He 
complained  afterwards  that  his  reception  was  a  cold 
one ;  he  had  made  no  allusion  to  Pitt's  visit,  but 
nevertheless  improved  the  occasion  by  so  lengthy 
an  expatiation  on  his  grievances,  that  the  King 
was  obliged  to  intimate  to  him  that  "  the  hour  was 
very  late." 

On  the  following  day  George  himself  spoke  of 
his  interview  with  Pitt.  He  had  no  particular 
wish,  he  said,  to  rid  himself  of  his  chief  Ministers, 
whose  general  conduct  he  approved,  and  who  had 
"served  him  well,"  but  the  Government,  he  reiter- 
ated, was  feeble,  and  he  desired  to  recruit  it  from 
the  ranks  of  Opposition.  As  an  instance  of  its 
feebleness,  he  adverted  warmly  to  the  shameful 
manner  in  which  the  rabble  had  been  permitted 
for  many  months  past  to  set  the  laws  at  defiance. 

At  Pitt's  second  interview  he  bore  himself  in 
an  even  more  high  -  handed  fashion  than  at  the 
first.  He  actually  insisted  upon  the  dismissal  from 



the  King's  service  of  such  officials  as  had  voted  in 
Parliament  in  favour  of  the  peace  with  France, 
and  even  of  those  who  there  was  reason  to 
believe  were  favourable  to  the  measure.  "  Should 
I  consent  to  these  demands  of  yours,  Mr.  Pitt," 
George  declared,  "there  would  be  nothing  left  for 
me  to  do  but  to  take  the  crown  from  my  own 
head  and  place  it  upon  yours,  and  then  patiently 
submit  my  neck  to  the  block."  "  The  style  of 
a  dictator,"  we  are  told,  "  was  assumed  by  Pitt ; 
terms  were  no  longer  proposed  but  prescribed, 
and  conditions  exacted  that  nothing  but  the  most 
abject  meanness,  or  most  absolute  despondency, 
could  assent  to.  A  total  bouleversement  of  the 
Government  was  demanded;  an  universal  prescrip- 
tion of  all  who  had  served  it  boldly  threatened, 
with  a  few  invidious  exceptions."  "  It  is  hardly 
conceivable,"  wrote  the  Duke  of  Bedford,  "  how 
they  could  have  the  insolence  to  propose  to  the 
King  to  turn  out,  by  a  general  sweep,  every  one 
that  had  faithfully  stood  by  him,  and  to  take  in 
all  those  who  had  acted  the  direct  contrary  part."  * 

No  wonder  Charles  Townshend  could  exclaim, 
"My  heart  bleeds  for  my  sovereign,  who  is  thus 
made  the  sport  of  wrestling  factions."  Certainly 

1  "You  must  have  heard,"  writes  Bedford,  on  the  5th  Sep- 
tember, "  that  Mr.  Pitt  has  been  sent  for,  and  his  friends,  the  discon- 
tented great  lords,  have  followed  him  to  Court ;  but  their  demands 
were  so  exorbitant— I  may  say  insolent — that  the  King,  after 
having  found  what  ill  use  they  would  have  made  of  his  modera- 
tion, has  determined  to  do  without  them,  and  I  doubt  not  his 
conduct  will  be  approved  by  the  most  considerable,  and  indeed 
all  the  considerate,  part  of  the  nation." 


the  King's  position  was  now  unenviable.  He  had 
endeavoured  to  stand  between  the  masses  of  his 
subjects  and  the  Whig  aristocracy,  who  had  so 
long  monopolised  power.  Debarred  by  the  Consti- 
tution from  directly  governing  and  managing  the 
departments  by  which  the  affairs  of  the  nation  are 
regulated,  he  was  compelled  to  look  on  while  those 
affairs  went  from  bad  to  worse.  He  was  right,  and 
he  knew  he  was  right,  but  he  was  powerless  as 
yet  to  put  the  State  machinery -in  order.  A  time 
would  come  when  his  character  and  motives,  now 
so  completely  misunderstood,  would  have  their  effect, 
both  on  the  Ministry  and  the  nation. 

"  As  yet  apparently,"  as  a  modern  writer  points 
out,  "the  leaders  of  the  two  great  parties  in  the 
State  were  entirely  mistaken  in  regard  to  their  sove- 
reign. Not  one  of  them  had  formed  an  adequate 
conception  of  that  strong  will,  that  unflinching 
peiisonal  courage,  that  earnest  anxiety  to  do  what 
was  right,  and  that  resolute  determination  to  resist 
injustice,  which  afterwards — in  many  a  crisis  of  politi- 
cal or  personal  peril — so  eminently  characterised  the 
conduct  of  George  III."  l 

There  was  no  alternative  ;  the  King  must  take 
back  Grenville  and  his  colleagues.  But  Grenville 
had  now  his  demands  to  make.  He  believed  that 
Bute  was  the  enemy ;  he  mentioned  his  suspicions  to 
the  King.  George  promptly  showed  him  a  letter 
from  Bute  "  speaking  with  the  greatest  regard 
imaginable  of  Mr.  Grenville,  and  advising  the 
King  to  give  his  whole  confidence  to  him."  Gren- 

1  Jesse,  Life  and  Reign  of  George  III. 

I  I  I 


ville  and  his  colleagues,  Halifax  and  Sandwich, 
demanded  that  Bute  should  retire  into  the  country. 
They  insisted  on  his  removal  at  least  thirty  miles 
distant,  and  being  completely  banished  from  his 
sovereign  and  former  friend.  The  two  must  never 
again  meet;  there  must  be  an  utter  estrangement, 
otherwise  they  would  not  consent  to  continue  in 
office.  George  received  this  ultimatum  with  an 
outward  dignity  concealing  his  inward  mortifica- 
tion. He  assured  them  on  his  word  of  honour  that 
he  would  have  no  further  consultation  on  political 
matters  with  the  Earl.  Privately  he  could  hardly 
help  regarding  it  as  a  direct  insult  to  his  intelli- 
gence that  they  should  consider  his  acts  and  opinions 
necessarily  inspired  and  regulated  by  another.  Never- 
theless, seeing  the  temper  of  Grenville,  he  wrote 
to  Bute  that  he  hoped  he  would  forsake  his  town 
house  in  South  Audley  Street,  and  so  remove  all 
opportunity  for  cavil  on  the  part  of  his  enemies. 
Bute  replied  that  he  was  already  in  the  act  of  break- 
ing up  his  large  establishment  in  order  to  reside 
henceforward  at  his  splendid  mansion  at  Luton,1  but 
he  must  be  granted  a  few  weeks'  longer  sojourn 
in  London.  Lady  Bute  and  her  six  daughters  im- 
peratively demanded  it  for  domestic  reasons. 

It  is  impossible  to  look  back  upon  this  situation 
without  amazement.  Bute  had  not  even  seen  his 
friend  and  sovereign  for  several  months;  he  had 
given  his  word  that  the  rupture  of  their  friendly 

1  Lady  Bute  had  inherited  from  Wortley  Montagu,  her  father, 
in  1761,  nearly  half  a  million  pounds,  besides  Cardiff  Castle  and 

I  12 


relations  should  be  permanent.  Nevertheless  we 
find  the  ex-Minister,  his  wife  and  six  daughters, 
being  hustled  out  of  London  in  case  some  un- 
constitutional idea  should  clandestinely  be  con- 
veyed by  him  to  a  King  who  was  the  best 
constitutionalist  in  the  kingdom,  that  some  notion 
inimical  to  Grenville,  Sandwich,  or  Halifax  should 
be  lodged  in  the  royal  brain.  What  was  to  prevent 
Bute's  writing  ?  The  King  had  not  given  his  word 
to  discountenance  his  letters — to  refuse  to  open 
them.  What  dangerous,  magnetic  persuasiveness 
was  there  in  Bute's  speech  and  manner,  he  who  is 
universally  described  as  the  incarnation  of  cold 
courtesy  ?  There  is  excruciating  humour  in  their 
utter  ignorance  of  George's  capacity.  Although  he 
was  a  young  man,  but  five-and-twenty  years  of 
age,  in  strength  of  character  and  resolution,  all 
hampered  as  he  was  by  constitutional  impedimenta, 
he  was  the  equal  of  his  advisers.  In  other  qualities 
and  other  virtues  he  was  incontestably  their  superior. 

Still  the  Cabinet  was  not  satisfied,  and,  over 
dinner  at  Lord  Sandwich's,  the  Ministers  gravely 
resolved  that  Bute's  "retreat  must  immediately  be 
carried  into  effect."  The  Earl's  anger  was  fired  at 
last.  The  suggestion  that  he  should  reside  on  the 
Continent  while  Luton  was  being  got  ready  for  his 
family  he  rejected  with  scorn.  He  positively  refused 
to  allow  the  Ministry  to  dictate  his  movements,  and 
in  London  he  remained  for  several  weeks  longer. 

The  post  of  Keeper  of  the  King's  Privy  Purse,  of 
which  Bute  had  been  deprived,  George  designed  to 
bestow  upon  Sir  William  Breton,  one  of  the  Grooms 

H  113 


of  his  Bedchamber.  He  had'  known  him  since  his 
childhood,  and  held  him  in  deep  respect.  But 
Sir  William  had  the  misfortune  of  knowing  and 
esteeming  Bute,  and  when  the  King  mentioned  his 
wishes,  Grenville  shook  his  head.  "  The  world,"  he 
muttered,  "  would  attribute  the  appointment  to  the 
backstairs  influence  of  my  Lord  Bute."  George's 
eye  darted  fire.  He  was  goaded  beyond  endur- 
ance. "  Good  God,  Mr.  Grenville,"  he  exclaimed, 
"  am  I  to  be  suspected  after  all  I  have  done  ? " 
Grenville  was  thrown  into  confusion.  "Not  by 
me,  sir,"  he  replied ;  "  I  cannot  doubt  your  inten- 
tions, but  such  is  the  present  language  and  suspicion 
of  the  world."  l  Breton  was  appointed. 

It  is  extremely  doubtful  if  the  Ministry  had  the 
public  with  them  to  such  an  extent  as  they  supposed. 
Erskirie  wrote  to  Sir  Andrew  Mitchell  on  the  27th 
September :  "  The  exorbitant  demands  of  the  Great 
Man  were  generally  condemned,  the  spirit  of  the 
King  universally  applauded." 

When  Bute  finally  left  London  for  Luton  a  great 
weight  of  anxiety  was  taken  off  Grenville's  breast. 
In  his  diary  hereafter  he  frequently  remarks  on  the 
"  openness  and  confidence "  and  "  great  ease  and 
confidence"  of  the  King's  conversation  with  him, 
also  of  his  royal  master's  "extreme  approbation  of 
his  conduct."  It  was  uphill  work,  but  George  still 
cherished  hopes  that  the  Ministry  might  prove 
adequate  to  the  needs  of  the  nation.  Grenville's 
self-gratulation  at  inducing  the  Duke  of  Bedford  to 
join  him  in  the  Government  did  not  last  long ;  soon 

1  Grenville  Correspondence,  vol.  ii.  p.  210. 


he  began  to  be  jealous  of  Bedford,  and  his  jealousy 
made  him  as  miserable  as  his  jealousy  of  Bute  had 
done.  Bedford  was  playing  him  false ;  Bedford  de- 
sired to  supplant  him  in  the  King's  favour.  George 
quickly  discovered  these  obsessions,  and  gently  dis- 
abused his  Minister's  mind.  He  told  him  to  have  no 
fear ;  he  had  given  him  his  full  confidence  and  support, 
and  would  uphold  him  to  the  utmost  of  his  power,  not 
only  against  his  open  opponents,  but  against  his  own 
colleagues.  Not  very  happily  inspired,  Grenville  mur- 
mured something  about  the  King's  late  overtures  to 
Pitt.  George  rebuked  him  as  an  elder  would  rebuke 
a  peevish  child.  "  Mr.  Grenville,"  he  said,  "  let  us  not 
look  back  ;  let  us  only  look  forward."  l 

If  any  of  the  Ministers  boasting  the  co-opera- 
tion of  the  King  and  the  Duke  of  Bedford's  friends 
cherished  hopes  of  sailing  in  smooth  waters,  those 
hopes  were  soon  to  be  shattered.     The  triumph  of 
the  audacious  Wilkes  stirred  Grenville's  spleen.     His 
first  attempt  to  crush  this  pertinacious  pamphleteer 
having    ended    in   failure,    he    determined   to   bring 
other  engines  to  bear.     Wilkes's  own  conduct  fur- 
nished a  fair  opportunity.     On  being  liberated  from 
the  Tower,  instead  of  following  the  advice  of  Temple 
id  his  discreeter  friends,  and  acting  with  dignity 
ic  role  of  patriot,  he  at  once  plunged  himself  into 
a   sea   of  obscenity,    from  which   his   friends   could 
tot  decently  rescue  him.     As  the  printers  found  it 
langerous  to  publish  his  productions,  he  set  up  a 
>ress   of  his   own   in   his    house,   and  proceeded  to 
>ut  into  press  an  obscene  and  blasphemous  parody 

1  Grenville  Correspondence,  vol.  ii.  p.  205. 


on  Pope's  "Essay  on  Man."  It  was  called  "An 
Essay  on  Woman."  Intended  for  private  circulation, 
unluckily — or  as  it  turned  out  luckily  for  Wilkes 

one  of  his  journeymen  printers  purloined  a  copy, 

and  by  this  means  it  was  laid  before  the  Secre- 
taries of  State.  Grenville  gloated  over  the  weapon 
thus  put  in  his  hands.  Had  he  been  wise  and 
prudent  he  would  have  allowed  Wilkes  to  go  to 
the  devil  in  his  own  way.  But  Grenville  was  not 
wise  or  prudent,  and  the  moment  Parliament  met 
and  the  King's  Speech  had  been  read,  Lord  Sandwich, 
in  the  House  of  Lords,  brought  up  the  question  of 
Wilkes.  The  amazing  and  cynical  effrontery  which 
induced  Sandwich  of  all  men  to  champion  the  cause 
of  purity  and  decency  excited  general  comment. 
Sandwich,  formerly  Wilkes's  boon  companion,  was 
one  of  the  most  profligate  men  of  the  times.  His 
licentiousness  was  almost  a  proverb.  On  this  account 
he  was  never  persona  grata  to  the  King.  "  Never 
before,"  said  Dashwood,  now  Lord  Le  Despencer, 
"  had  he  heard  the  devil  preach." 

Wilkes  did  not  scruple  to  embellish  his  infamous 
Essay  on  Woman  with  copious  notes  attributed  to 
Warburton,  Bishop  of  Gloucester.  Wherefore,  the 
Peers  pronounced  the  Essay  on  Woman  "  to  be  the 
most  scandalous  and  obscene  libel,  and  its  author 
guilty  of  a  breach  of  privilege  towards  the  Bishop." 
In  the  Commons  Grenville  anticipated  any  other 
motion,  and  brought  forward  at  once  number  forty- 
five  of  the  North  Briton,  which  the  Lower  House 
in  turn  pronounced  to  be  a  "  false,  scandalous, 
and  seditious  libel,"  and  ordered  it  to  be  burnt  by 

(From  the  Portrait  by  Zoffany) 


the  common  hangman.  Wilkes  having  appealed  to 
the  judgment  of  the  House  on  the  question  of  his 
privilege,  the  matter  was  postponed  for  a  week.  In 
the  meanwhile  Wilkes  fought  a  duel  in  Hyde  Park 
with  a  member  named  Martin,  and  was  dangerously 
wounded.  He  was  still  in  bed  when  the  question  of 
privilege  was  introduced  and  debated  with  great 
warmth  in  the  House.  It  was  resolved  that  the 
privilege  of  Parliament  did  not  extend  to  the  right 
of  writing  and  publishing  seditious  libels,  and  ought 
not  to  be  allowed  to  obstruct  the  ordinary  course  of 
the  law. 

Albeit  Pitt  vehemently  denounced  the  ease  with 
which  Parliament  was  surrendering  its  privileges,  at 
the  same  time  he  took  occasion  to  throw  Wilkes 
overboard,  and  not  only  Wilkes,  but  all  his  lucubra- 
tions. The  whole  series  of  North  Britons  were 
"  illiberal,  unmanly,  and  detestable.  He  abhorred 
all  national  reflections.  The  King's  subjects  were 
one  people.  Whoever  divided  them  was  guilty  of 
sedition.  His  Majesty's  complaint  was  well  founded: 
it  was  just ;  it  was  necessary.  The  author  did  not 
deserve  to  be  ranked  among  the  human  species ;  he 
was  the  blasphemer  of  his  God,  and  the  libeller  of 
his  King.  He  had  no  connection,  nor  did  he  associate 
>r  communicate  with  any  such  writer." l  Such  was 

1  Wilkes  never  forgave  this  "  treachery  ''  of  Pitt.     "  Although 
declare/'  he  wrote,  "that  the  conscious  pride  of  virtue  makes  me 
)k  down  with  contempt  on  a  man  who  could  be  guilty  of  this 
iseness   .   .    .   yet   I    will  on    every    occasion    do   justice    to    the 
Minister.     He  had  served  the  public  on  all  those  points  where  the 
d  of  the  nation  coincided  with  his  own  private  views — and  in 
no  other." 



Pitt's  language.  He  forgot  that  it  was  in  his 
presence  and  by  his  inspiration  that  No.  45  was  first 

The  Lords  concurred  in  the  resolution  of  the 
Commons,  and  Wilkes  was  ordered  to  attend  at  the 
bar  of  the  House  within  a  week.  An  address  to  the 
King  was  voted,  expressed  in  dutiful  and  affectionate 
terms,  and  blamed  with  proper  asperity  the  wanton 
indignity  his  Majesty  had  sustained. 

Wilkes,  deserted  by  Pitt  and  now  meditating 
flight,  was  not  forgotten  by  the  people.  He  was  as 
much  their  idol  as  ever,  and  Bute  was  still  a  target  for 
obloquy.  The  names  of  Bedford  and  Grenville  were 
uttered  only  to  be  hissed.  The  shameless  effrontery 
of  Sandwich  was  universally  reprobated.  The 
"  Beggar's  Opera "  was  being  performed  at  Co  vent 
Garden  Theatre.  At  one  point  Captain  McHeath 
exclaims  that  "Jemmy  Twitcher  should  peach  me, 
I  own  surprised  me.  It  is  a  proof  that  the  world  is 
all  alike,  and  that  even  our  gang  can  no  more  trust 
one  another  than  other  people."  There  was  a  slight 
pause,  and  instantaneously  one  idea  fired  the  minds 
of  the  audience.  All  eyes  were  directed  to  a  box. 
There  sat  Lord  Sandwich.  Two  or  three  voices 
cried  out  "  Jemmy  Twitcher  !  Jemmy  Twitcher!" 
The  cry  was  taken  up  by  the  house,  and  it  was  as 
"Jemmy  Twitcher"  that  Sandwich  was  known  till 
his  death,  nearly  thirty  years  later. 

But  the  North  Briton  was  to  be  burnt.      Here 

again    the    Ministry   foolishly   exposed    themselves. 

The  sheriff  and  other  officers  assembled  at  the  Royal 

Exchange  to  obey  the  orders  of  Parliament  were 



set  upon  by  a  furious  mob,  pelted  with  stones  and 
filth,  and  treated  with  great  violence.  The  sheriff's 
chariot  was  broken,  and  the  paper  was  snatched  from 
him.  In  its  stead  that  evening  a  jack-boot  and 
petticoat  were  publicly  burnt  in  a  bonfire  at  Temple 
Bar.  The  contumacious  common  council  of 
London  formally  awarded  its  thanks  to  the  City 
members  who  had  voted  against  the  Ministry.  Chief 
Justice  Pratt,  who  had  pronounced  in  Wilkes's  favour, 
was  presented  with  the  freedom  of  the  City. 

Yet  in  spite  of  his  continued  popularity,  Wilkes 
felt  that  his  situation  was  most  precarious,  and  after 
several  times  putting  off  his  attendance  at  the  bar 
of  the  House  on  the  plea  of  illness,  he  fled  to  Paris. 
When  Parliament  met  on  20th  January  1764, 
Wilkes's  expulsion  was  agreed  to  by  an  over- 
whelming vote. 

Four  days  later  the  Lords  voted  Wilkes  to  be 
the  author  of  the  "  Essay  on  Woman,"  and  issued 
orders  for  the  seizure  of  his  person.  As  he  did  not 
appear  to  receive  judgment,  he  was  outlawed. 

George  was  one  of  those  who  felt  greatly  relieved 
by  Wilkes's  flight.  It  is  almost  unnecessary  to  say 
he  had  taken  the  reflections  of  the  libellous  dema- 
gogue very  much  to  heart,  especially  those  referring 
to  his  mother,  the  Princess  Dowager.  What  he 
could  not  understand  was,  that  when  the  issue 
seemed  to  be  between  himself  and  Wilkes — he  who 
had  suffered  the  grievance,  and  he  who  had  com- 
mitted it — men  could  be  found  professing  loyalty 
whose  sympathies  and  suffrages  were  with  Wilkes 
rather  than  their  King.  Such  conduct  evoked  some- 



thing  more  than  his  anger.  He  saw  that  if  this  spirit, 
which  was  so  rampant  in  the  City  of  London,  were 
allowed  to  permeate  the  entire  nation,  if  a  class  of 
agitators  was  to  be  formed  and  the  adherents  to 
authority  disputed,  then  the  times  were  ripe  indeed 
for  revolution. 

And  as  one  surveys  that  critical  period  after  a 
lapse  of  a  century  and  a  half,  one  sees  what  a  close 
analogy  it  bears  in  its  violence,  alarms,  and  turbu- 
lence, and  above  all  in  its  caprice  —  the  violent, 
unreasonable  caprice  of  a  sick  man  or  an  ailing 
society — to  the  period  immediately  preceding  the 
Revolution  in  France.  It  seems  to  us  that  all  the 
combustible  materials,  all  the  tinder,  was  there,  and 
it  only  needed  agglomeration  and  the  spark  of  some 
less  intermittent  blaze  than  John  Wilkes  to  produce 
a  dangerous  conflagration. 

George  has  been  blamed,  and  we  think  very  un- 
justly, for  troubling  his  head  about  Wilkes.  He 
has  been  blamed  still  more  for  desiring  that  Wilkes's 
upholders  and  partisans  should  be  made  to  feel  the 
weight  of  his  displeasure.  But  surely  it  was  asking 
too  much  to  ask  a  monarch  of  flesh  and  blood  to 
sink  his  feelings  in  the  matter,  and  to  continue  to 
regard  the  persons  who  had  evinced  their  hostility  to 
him  and  their  distrust  of  his  mother  and  friends  as  of 
no  danger  to  the  throne  or  the  kingdom.  In  Feb- 
ruary 1764  we  find  him  writing  to  Grenville  that 
"  Firmness  and  resolution  must  now  be  shown,  and  no 
one's  friends  saved  but  as  dare  to  fly  off.  This  alone 
can  restore  order  and  save  this  country  from  anarchy. 
I  hope,"  he  adds,  "  that  those  who  have  deserted  me 
1 20 


feel  that  I  am  not  to  be  neglected  unpunished." 
Yet  few  punishments  were  meted  out.  Conway, 
brother  of  Lord  Hertford,  was  dismissed  from  his 
office  of  Groom  of  the  Bedchamber  and  his  command 
of  a  dragoon  regiment ;  Fitzherbert,  who  had  made 
himself  prominent  in  voting  against  the  Government 
and  with  Wilkes,  was  removed  from  the  Board  of 
Trade.  These  were  about  all,  but  they  sufficed  to 
show  that  the  King  was  not  to  be  trifled  with,  and 
both  these  offenders  lived  to  confess  they  had  been  in 
the  wrong,  and  to  do  their  resolute  and  high-spirited 
sovereign  tardy  justice. 




GEORGE  had  not  passed  his  twenty-sixth  birthday 
when  he  found  himself  consulted  by  his  Ministers 
on  a  question  of  great  constitutional  moment,  far  to 
transcend  in  its  immediate  consequences  any  political 
event  of  his  reign. 

It  is  impossible  to  believe,  considering  the  deep 
attention  with  which  he  considered  all  matters  relat- 
ing to  his  people,  that  the  question  of  a  more  uniform 
taxation  of  his  subjects  should  not  before  have  been 
contemplated  by  the  young  King.  We  have  seen 
how  the  burden  of  the  Seven  Years'  War  oppressed 
the  people  of  Britain.  The  fierce  disapproval  with 
which  any  further  taxes  were  greeted,  as,  for  instance, 
the  cyder  tax,  betrayed  the  difficulty  with  which  the 
Ministry  was  confronted  to  endeavour  to  raise  the 
needed  supplies. 

There  was  one  source  of  taxation  which  had  not 
yet  been  tapped.  The  Britain  on  the  other  side  of 
the  Atlantic  had  been  founded,  protected,  and  en- 
couraged by  the  Mother  Country.  It  claimed  and 
enjoyed  the  benefit  of  freedom  and  constitutional 
government.  We  are  so  accustomed  to  denounce 
the  idea,  that  very  "  fatal  idea,"  of  American  taxation, 
that  we  forget  that  there  is  no  need  of  confining 



our  denunciations  to  any  specific  proposition,  or 
plan,  or  instance  of  taxation.  "  All  taxation  is  bad," 
as  Mr.  Asquith  has  recently  declared ;  all  forms  of 
levied  imposts  on  the  people  equally  merit  the  dis- 
approval of  the  average  man.  But  looking  at  the 
question  broadly,  and  in  the  light  of  common-sense, 
was  it  unreasonable  that  the  Colonies  should  contri- 
bute towards  the  discharge  of  a  debt  which  had  been 
incurred  in  support  of  the  Government  which  ensured 
them  liberty  and  prosperity  ?  The  Seven  Years'  War 
—Pitt's  war — was  undertaken  principally  on  account 
of  America.  Adam  Smith  has  demonstrated  clearly 
that  the  great  bulk  of  the  debt  contracted  in  the 
war  originated  in  the  defence  of  America. 

By  expelling  the  French  from  Canada,  and  the 
Spaniards  from  Florida,  all  danger  to  the  thirteen 
Colonies  had  been  removed.  That  danger  had  long 
kept  the  Colonies  united  in  their  loyalty  to  the 
Mother  Country.  Her  protecting  arm  had  stood 
between  them  and  destruction.1 

But  the  Peace  of  Paris  in  1763  altered  the  situa- 
tion. That  treaty  gave  birth  to  a  new  spirit  in  the 
Colonies.  Not  that  this  new  spirit  was  entirely  un- 
foreseen. "  England,"  said  the  French  Ambassador  at 
(onstantinople,  "  will  soon  repent  of  having  removed 
1  The  Assembly  at  Massachusetts  voted  an  elaborate  monument 
jn  Westminster  Abbey  to  Lord  Howe,  who  had  lost  his  life  in  the 
Canadian  campaign.  In  a  congratulatory  address  to  the  governor, 
they  declared  that  without  the  assistance  of  the  parent  State  they 
must  have  fallen  a  prey  to  the  power  of  France,  and  that  without 
the  compensation  granted  to  them  by  Parliament,  the  burdens  of 
the  war  would  have  been  insupportable,  that  without  provisions  of 
the  treaty  of  peace  all  their  successes  would  have  been  delusive. 


the  only  check  that  could  keep  her  Colonies  in  awe. 
They  stand  no  longer  in  need  of  her  protection.  She 
will  call  on'them  to  help  to  support  the  burdens  they 
have  brought  on  her,  and  they  will  answer  by  striking 
off  all  dependence."  As  far  back  as  1730  Montesquieu 
had  said  that  England  would  be  the  first  nation 
abandoned  by  her  Colonies.  Argenson  predicted 
that  the  English  Colonies  in  America  would  one  day 
rise  against  the  Mother  Country,  forming  themselves 
into  a  Republic,  and  astonish  the  world  by  their 
prosperity.  A  Swedish  traveller,  Kalm,  and  the 
French  statesman,  Turgot,  also  prophesied  that  they 
would  fall  away  like  ripe  fruit  from  the  parent  tree. 
But  although  these  things  might  be  clear  to  the  eye 
of  the  far-seeing  statesman  and  philosopher,  yet 
while  the  Empire  continued  united,  while  the  Colonies 
looked  to  Britain  for  protection,  and  to  the  King  as 
their  sovereign  lord,  it  was  difficult  to  understand 
why  Imperial  contributions  should  be  withheld. 

We  must  not  labour  this  point.  We  live  again 
in  a  critical  political  juncture.  Once  more  we  are 
in  a  transitional  period.  A  century  and  a  half  has 
elapsed ;  the  face  of  the  world  has  changed ;  great 
revolutions  have  been  wrought,  and  yet  amidst  all 
the  political  as  well  as  material  progress  which  has 
marked  the  English-speaking  world  since  1764,  we 
are  face  to  face  with  the  old,  old  problem.  The 
Imperial  burden  is  still  inequitably  adjusted ;  there 
are  still  voices  indignantly  demanding  that  the  far 
flung,  prosperous  members  of  the  British  confederacy 
should  assist  to  relieve  that  burden.  But  as  Edmund 
Burke  said  later,  "  You  cannot  argue  a  man  or  a 


nation  into  taxation."  Any  individual  or  community 
which  has  once  enjoyed,  and  enjoyed  for  a  long 
period,  an  immunity  from  taxes,  will  instantly 
revolt  at  the  thought  of  the  pocket,  be  it  never  so 
full,  being  bled.  If  foes  threaten,  if  his  immediate 
jeopardy  demands  it,  if  his  honour  is  at  stake,  a 
man  may  make  sacrifices  willingly,  even  eagerly. 
But  when  there  is  no  enemy,  no  question  of  honour 
involved,  except  the  rather  vague  one  of  civic  equity, 
he  will  shrink  sullenly  from  the  demand  of  the  tax- 

Every  argument  used  between  1764  and  1775  for 
the  taxation  of  all  parts  of  the  Empire  alike  have  been 
heard  within  the  last  fifty  years,  and  are  still  being 
canvassed  in  all  parts  of  the  British  Empire.  The 
difficulty  of  forcing  any  uniform  system  of  Imperial 
taxation  lay  then,  as  it  lies  to-day,  in  the  loose 
structure  of  the  Empire  and  the  vague  principles 
which  govern  the  relations  of  the  Mother  Country 
and  the  Colonies. 

One  thing  we  see  much  more  clearly  now  than 
did  Grenville,  Townshend,  and  their  successors,  and 
that  is,  that  the  bond  which  holds  the  Empire  in 
unity,  or  such  unity  as  exists,  is  the  common 
sovereign,  and  not  the  British  Parliament. 

When  in  the  month  of  March  1764  was  discussed 
the  plan  for  imposing  the  most  moderate  Stamp 
duties  on  his  American  subjects,  George  approved 
of  the  measure.  It  seemed  an  act  of  bare  justice. 
Nor  could  he  believe  that  the  proposition  would 
be  received  in  a  hostile  spirit.  He  had  then  on  his 
table  an  address  to  the  King  from  the  Colonies,  the 



ink  of  which  was  scarcely  dry,  in  which  they  pledged 
themselves  to  demonstrate  their  gratitude  by  every 
possible  testimony  of  duty  and  loyalty.  In  several 
Colonies,  it  must  be  remembered,  proprietary  govern- 
ment had  been  replaced  by  royal  government.  The 
direct  rule  of  the  sovereign  had  been  found  more 
equitable  and  liberal  than  government  by  private 
company  or  individual.  The  colonial  theory  early 
held  by  the  Colonies  was  that  "  having  been  founded 
in  most  instances  without  any  assistance  from  the 
Home  Government,  and  having  received  their  charters 
from  the  sovereign  and  not  from  the  Parliament,  they 
were  in  the  position  of  Scotland  before  the  Union, 
and  bound  in  allegiance  to  the  King,  and  altogether 
independent  of  the  English  Parliament."  True,  this 
theory  had  been  vigorously  combated  by  the  British 
Parliament,  and  some  of  the  colonists  abandoned  it. 
Certainly  the  leading  Colony,  Massachusetts,  re- 
peatedly, as  late  as  1768,  acknowledged  in  explicit 
terms  the  right  of  the  English  Parliament  to  bind  the 
Colonies  by  its  acts. 

It  was  natural  that  George  should  regard  with 
sympathy  the  American  view  of  the  hegemony  of 
the  King.  Later  he  learnt  with  anger  that  their 
petitions  to  him  had  been  suppressed.  "Dutiful 
petitions,"  the  Americans  complained,  "  have  been 
preferred  to  our  most  gracious  sovereign,  which,  to 
the  great  consternation  of  the  people,  we  now  learn 
have  been  cruelly  and  insidiously  prevented  from 
reaching  the  royal  presence." 

If  America  had  not  been  taxed   before,  it  was 
owing  to  the  simple  fact  that  England  was  rich  and 


the  Colonies  were  poor.  As  Dr.  Johnson  put  it, 
"We  do  not  put  a  calf  into  the  plough,  we  wait 
till  it  is  an  ox ! "  But  the  position  of  Britain,  as 
well  as  of  America,  was  now  wholly  changed.  Her 
Empire  had  been  raised  to  an  unprecedented  magni- 
tude, but  at  the  same  time  she  staggered  under  a 
national  debt  of  nearly  140  millions.  Taxation  was 
greatly  increased.  Poverty  and  distress  were  very 
general,  and  it  had  become  necessary  to  introduce  a 
spirit  of  economy  into  all  parts  of  the  administration, 
to  foster  every  form  of  revenue,  and  if  possible  to 
diffuse  over  the  gigantic  Empire  a  military  burden 
which  was  too  great  for  one  small  island.1 

The  King  not  only  recognised  the  inequality  of 
Imperial  taxation,  but  he  saw  clearly  that  certain 
American  abuses  should  be  put  down  firmly.  His 
Ministers'  representations  concerning  American  smug- 
gling had  his  earnest  support.  So  great  had  smug- 
gling practices  grown  that  the  custom-houses  in 
America,  which  cost  nearly  £8000  in  wages,  did  not 
collect  above  £2000  a  year.  Of  the  million  and  a 
half  pounds  of  tea  annually  consumed  in  America, 
only  less  than  a  tenth  part  paid  duty.  It  was  the 
same  with  rum,  brandy,  molasses,  and  sugar.  This 
was  manifestly  unfair,  and  George  cordially  approved 
of  the  Parliamentary  resolution  which  declared  that 
"  It  is  just  and  necessary  that  a  revenue  be  raised  in 
your  Majesty's  dominions  in  America  for  defraying 
the  expenses  of  defending,  protecting,  and  securing 
the  same."  But  a  great  modern  writer  has  gone 
over  this  ground  carefully.  He  has  shown  that  if 

1  Lecky,  vol.  iii.  p.  306. 



the  Stamp  Act  was  a  grievance  to  the  Americans, 
the  gross  exaggerations  which  have  been  repeated 
on  the  subject  should  be  dispelled,  and  that  the 
nature  of  the  alleged  tyranny  of  England  should 
be  clearly  defined.  "  Not  a  particle  of  evidence  exists 
that  any  British  statesman,  or  any  class  of  the 
British  people,  desired  to  raise  anything  by  direct 
taxation  from  the  Colonies  for  purposes  that  were 
purely  British.  They  were  asked  to  contribute 
nothing  to  the  support  of  the  navy  which  protected 
their  coast,  nothing  to  the  interest  of  the  British 
debt.  At  the  close  of  a  war  which  had  left  Britain 
overwhelmed  with  additional  burdens,  in  which  the 
whole  resources  of  the  British  Empire  had  been 
strained  for  the  extension  and  security  of  the  British 
territory  in  America,  by  which  the  American  colonists 
had  gained  incomparably  more  than  any  other  of  the 
subjects  of  the  Crown,  the  Colonies  were  asked  to 
bear  their  share  in  the  burden  of  the  Empire  by  con- 
tributing a  third  part — they  would  no  doubt  ulti- 
mately have  been  asked  to  contribute  the  whole — of 
what  was  required  for  the  maintenance  of  an  army  of 
10,000  men,  intended  primarily  for  their  own  defence. 
£100,000  was  the  highest  estimate  of  what  the  Stamp 
Act  would  annually  produce,  and  it  was  rather  less 
than  a  third  part  of  the  expense  of  the  new  army. 
This  was  what  England  asked  from  the  most  pros- 
perous portion  of  her  Empire.  Every  farthing  which 
it  was  intended  to  raise  in  America  it  was  intended 
also  to  spend  there." 1 

Now  it  was  no  new  thing  to  tax  the  Colonies ;  it 

1  Lecky,  vol.  iii.  pp.  313-14. 


had  been  done  before,  and  was  indeed  being  in- 
directly done  at  the  time  the  Stamp  tax  was  proposed. 
But  the  King  no  more  than  Grenville  was  com- 
mitted to  any  particular  form  of  taxation.  George 
impressed  upon  his  Ministers  that  his  subjects  over- 
seas were  to  be  consulted.  Grenville  himself  told  the 
agent  for  Massachusetts,  "  I  am  not  set  upon  this 
tax ;  if  the  Americans  dislike  it,  and  prefer  any  other 
method  of  raising  the  money  themselves,  I  shall  be 
content.  Write,  therefore,  to  your  several  Colonies, 
and  if  they  choose  any  other  mode,  I  shall  be  satis- 
fied." He  deferred  the  Stamp  Act  for  an  entire  year 
in  order  that  the  Colonies  might  of  themselves  make 
Imperial  taxation  unnecessary.  He  went  further  ;  as 
the  cry  of  "  no  taxation  without  representation  "  had 
been  urged,  if  the  Americans  thought  their  liberties 
would  become  more  secure  by  the  introduction  of 
American  representatives  into  the  British  Parliament, 
he  was  prepared  to  support  such  a  scheme. 

Here,  however,  was  where  Grenville  differed  from 
King,  and  indeed  from  the  bulk  of  the  British 
>ple  and  politicians.     George  saw  no  reason  for 
enlarging   the    British    Parliament,   as   long   as   the 

Colonial  legislators  were  competent  to  fulfil  their 
Functions  and  acknowledged  his  authority.  And  at 

tat  time  he  fully  believed  they  would  acknowledge 
iis  authority.  The  storm  of  opposition  that  greeted 

ie  Stamp  Act  in  America  signified  little.  English- 
men, who  had  grown  accustomed  to  protests  against 
the  impositions  of  taxes,  who  had  just  witnessed  the 
revolt  in  the  cyder  counties,  paid  little  attention  to 
mch  outbursts.  The  Stamp  Act  passed  in  a  thin 

i  129 


House  with  but  two  or  three  dissidents,  and  received 
the  royal  assent  in  March  1765.  With  what  surprise 
and  grief  the  King  beheld  the  subsequent  behaviour 
of  America,  we  shall  shortly  perceive. 

Meanwhile  George's  active  attention  to  business 
and  his  arduous  relations  with  his  Ministers  was 
obviously  undermining  his  health.  His  dislike  to 
Sandwich  was  only  natural  to  a  man  who  contemned 
profligacy.  "  The  King  speaks  daily  with  more  and 
more  averseness  to  Lord  Sandwich,  and  seems  to  have 
a  settled  dislike  to  his  character." l 

As  to  Grenville,  he  appeared  in  a  hundred  ways 
to  take  a  special  delight  in  opposing  the  King's 
wishes.  George  complained  when  he  had  anything 
proposed  to  him  "  it  was  no  longer  as  counsel,  but 
what  he  was  to  obey."  "  When  Mr.  Grenville  has 
wearied  me  for  two  hours,  he  looks  at  his  watch  to 
see  if  he  may  not  tire  me  for  one  hour  more." 

George  having  resolved  to  make  a  royal  palace 
of  Buckingham  House,2  was  anxious  to  acquire  for 
the  extremely  moderate  sum  of  £20,000  a  tract 
of  neighbouring  land,  destined  to  have  enormous 
pecuniary  value,  and  thereby  prevent  the  erection 
of  buildings  which  would  destroy  his  privacy ;  but 
Grenville  absolutely  refused  his  consent.  The  King 
might  have  borne  this  more  calmly  than  he  bore 
another  exhibition  of  Grenville's  economy  which 
had  an  unfavourable  effect  upon  his  subjects  in  the 
capital.  By  the  expenditure  of  a  few  hundred 

1  Grenville  Papers,  vol.  ii.  p.  496. 

2  Buckingham    House   was    purchased    by    George    III.    from 
Sir  Charles  Sheffield  for  twenty  thousand  guineas. 



pounds  it  was  proposed  to  clear  the  metropolis  of 
the  cut-purses  and  footpads,  which  then  infested  the 
streets.  It  was  a  public  scandal,  but  Grenville  re- 
fused to  sign  the  Treasury  Minute. 

Early  in  January  1765  the  King  became  ill.  Gren- 
ville records  in  his  diary  that  Sir  William  Duncan 
came  to  let  him  know  that  he  had  been  with  the 
King.  "  He  had  a  violent  cold,  had  passed  a  rest- 
less night,  and  complained  of  stitches  in  his  breast. 
His  Majesty  was  blooded  14  ozs."  On  the  14th 
the  King  was  better,  but  saw  none  of  his  Ministers. 
The  next  record  is  January  15th  :  "  Mr.  Grenville 
went  to  the  King,  and  found  him  perfectly  cheerful 
and  good-humoured  and  full  of  conversation." 

This  was  not  the  King's  first  illness.  Two  years 
previously  he  had  suffered  from  a  feverish  cold, 
which  settled  on  his  chest.  The  usual  remedy 
then  had  been  resorted  to :  he  had  been  blooded 
seven  times  and  had  three  blisters. 

Thanks   to   the  efforts   of  the   relentless   Court 

Sangrado,  this  bleeding  of  the  King  went  merrily 

i    forward  whenever  he  became  physically  and  mentally 

i    exhausted.      During    the    whole    of    January    and 

t    February   George   was    in   low    health   and    spirits, 

I    and  yet  he  insisted  on  going  through  an  amazing 

e    amount   of  business,  reading   all  State   papers   and 

li   discussing  matters  of  high  moment  with  his  advisers. 

it   Being  of  a  serious,  responsible  disposition,  and  still 

»j  full  of  the  illusions   and   strenuosity  of  youth,  he 

would    not    delegate    any   work   which    he   felt   he 

r   could  undertake  himself.     The  result  was  a  relapse 

so   serious  that  Bute  at   Luton  was  in  agonies   at 


not  being  permitted  to  see  his  beloved  friend  and 

On  the  5th  March  the  Earl  came  to  town  and  in- 
sisted on  Grenville  letting  the  King  know  that  he 
was  at  the  palace.  George  chatted  with  him  for  a 
quarter  of  an  hour,  much  to  his  pleasure  and  relief. 
It  was  the  first  ray  of  real  affection  that  had  shone 
on  him,  except  from  members  of  his  own  family, 
since  his  illness. 

Bute  joined  with  the  Queen  in  urging  the  King 
to  enjoy  a  respite  from  business.  A  little  later  we 
are  told  that  Grenville  was  intercepted  by  Charlotte, 
who  told  him  she  was  "  afraid  he  would  not  agree 
with  her  in  wishing  that  the  King  would  not  see 
his  servants  so  often,  or  talk  so  much  upon  business." 
Grenville  told  the  Queen  that  for  his  part  he  never 
wished  to  break  in  upon  the  King.  Charlotte  re- 
peated that  she  thought  the  Minister  had  better  not 
speak  upon  business. 

Charlotte,  it  should  here  be  mentioned,  had  on 
the  12th  August  1762  borne  George  a  son  and  heir, 
and  the  kingdom  a  future  monarch.  Other  children 
came  in  quick  succession,  and  brought  great  comfort 
and  delight  to  the  King,  who  rarely  tasted  happiness 
now  save  in  the  bosom  of  his  family. 

That  the  protraction  of  the  King's  illness  was 
occasioned  by  the  unskilfulness  of  his  physicians  there 
is  little  doubt.  But  the  dangerous  consequences 
were  not  by  him  overlooked,  nor  by  the  country  at 
large.  His  eldest  son,  the  heir  to  the  throne,  was 
only  two  years  old,  and  the  question  of  a  Regency 
had  not  yet  been  settled.  We  therefore  find  George ; 


sending  for  his  uncle,  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  and 
telling  him  that  his  late  illness  was  an  additional 
reason  for  him  to  desire  to  consult  him,  "  For  that 
though  he  was  now  well,  yet  God  alone  knew  how 
soon  an  accident  might  befall  him."  He  meant  to 
provide  against  any  confusion  which  might  result 
from  his  death  or  illness  during  his  son's  minority. 

A  Regency  Bill  was  forthwith  introduced,  re- 
stricting the  right  of  becoming  Regent  to  the 
Queen  and  the  royal  family,  then  residing  in  London. 
George's  especial  wish  being  to  prevent  "faction  in 
the  royal  family,"  he  had  desired  that  he  might  be 
allowed  to  nominate  a  Regent  by  will.  He  had 
particularly  enjoined  upon  Grenville  that  every  part 
relating  to  the  Bill  "ought  to  be  made  as  clear  as 
possible."  But  when  the  Regency  Bill  came  to  be 
discussed  in  the  House  of  Lords,  it  appeared  that 
the  Ministry  had  not  decided  the  question  of  who 
constituted  the  royal  family.  Did  the  term  in- 
clude the  Princess  Dowager  ?  Bedford  and  Halifax, 
animated  by  animosity  towards  the  King's  mother, 
maintained  that  the  term  did  not  include  the 
Princess  Dowager.  The  Lord  Chancellor  held  that 
the  King's  mother  was  undoubtedly  a  member  of 
the  family.  Many  heated  arguments  took  place, 
when  it  was  seen  that  a  large  party  both  in  and 
out  of  Parliament  clamoured  for  the  exclusion  of 
the  Princess  Dowager.  They  were  afraid  that  the 
King  would  nominate  her  as  Regent  in  case  of  his 
death  or  illness.  The  Duke  of  Richmond  never- 
theless proposed  that  the  House  should  declare 
Augusta  eligible  for  the  office. 



By  the  King  all  these  proceedings  were  viewed 
with  the  utmost  abhorrence  and  misery.  The 
dignity  of  the  Crown  was  being  compromised.  At 
this  juncture  George  received  Halifax  and  Sandwich 
in  his  closet.  They  told  him  that  not  a  moment 
was  to  be  lost ;  the  House  of  Commons  would  in- 
evitably strike  the  name  of  the  Princess  Dowager 
out  of  the  Bill.  The  best,  nay,  the  only,  means  of 
saving  his  own  honour  and  that  of  the  Princess 
was  to  authorise  his  Ministers  to  announce  openly 
in  Parliament  that  he  had  withdrawn  his  name  from 
the  Bill.  George's  distress  was  pitiful  ;  it  ought  to 
have  wrung  compassion  from  his  Ministers.  Yet  he 
bowed  to  their  counsel.  "  I  consent,"  was  the  Stoic 
answer  he  made  Halifax,  "  if  it  will  satisfy  my 
people!"  The  two  Ministers,  delighted  at  having  thus 
overcome  all  opposition,  hastened  to  St.  Stephen's, 
where  the  discussions  on  the  Regency  Bill  were  still 
in  progress,  and  announced  that  the  King  had  cut 
the  Gordian  knot  by  expressing  himself  in  favour 
of  his  mother's  expulsion. 

No  wonder  the  opponents  of  the  much-injured 
Augusta  were  elated.  Intoxicated  with  presump- 
tion or  blind  with  the  thirst  of  revenge,  as  Walpole 
says,  still  it  is  hard  to  conceive  they  should  dare  to 
venture  upon  such  a  provoking  and  daring  insult. 
The  Lord  Chancellor  hastened  to  the  palace  to  ex- 
plain to  the  King  how  improperly  he  had  been 
induced  to  act.  The  fate  of  the  Bill  was  by  no 
means  certain.  The  temper  of  the  House  of 
Commons  was  not  at  all  opposed  to  the  Princess 
Dowager.  George  instantly  saw  the  cruel  manner 


in  which  he  had  been  deceived,  and  when  Grenville 
next  came  to  him,  changed  colour,  and  spoke  with 
great  emotion  of  the  disregard  which  had  been 
shown  to  his  mother.  "  How  painful,"  said  he, 
"  will  be  the  predicament  in  which  I  shall  be  placed 
should  the  eligibility  of  the  Princess  be  maintained 
by  the  House  of  Commons,  and  yet  be  repudiated 
by  my  own  Ministers.  It  would  be  an  affront  to 
my  mother  which  I  could  not  bear." 

Grenville  muttered  that  "  the  blame  was  on 
Halifax  and  Sandwich,"  but  the  King  was  too  pro- 
voked and  indignant  to  reply.  On  Grenville's  de- 
parture George  opened  his  whole  heart  to  Lord 
Mansfield,  and  as  he  related  to  him  the  manner  in 
which  he  had  been  treated,  he  could  not  forbear 
to  shed  tears. 

"  Halifax,"  he  said,  "  had  surprised  him  into 
giving  his  consent  to  expulsion."  The  predicament 
which  the  King  anticipated  actually  happened  when 
the  Regency  Bill  was  brought  before  the  House  of 
Commons.  While  Grenville  was  attacked  for  his 
suspected  misconduct,  Augusta's  name  was  expressly 
inserted  in  the  Bill.  Grenville  and  his  colleagues 
dared  not,  under  these  circumstances,  vote  against 
expulsion,  and  their  position,  considering  the  repre- 
sentations they  had  made  to  the  sovereign,  was 
truly  contemptible.  Grenville  tried  to  put  the 
blame  on  Halifax  and  Sandwich,  who  retorted  by 
throwing  all  the  attempted  deception  of  the  King 
on  their  colleague's  shoulders. 

The  incapacity  of  such   Ministers  as  these  was 

r  notorious  to  be  tolerated.     "  The  Regency  Bill," 


wrote  young  Edmund  Burke,  not  yet  a  member  of 
Parliament,  "  has  shown  such  want  of  concert  and 
want  of  capacity  in  the  Ministers,  such  inattention 
to  the  honour  of  the  Crown,  if  not  such  a  design 
against  it,  such  imposition  and  surprise  upon  the 
King,  and  such  misrepresentation  of  the  disposition 
of  Parliament  to  the  sovereign,  that  there  is  no 
doubt  that  there  is  a  fixed  resolution  to  get  rid  of 
them  all  (except  perhaps  Grenville),  but  particularly 
the  Duke  of  Bedford." 

George  had  endured  much  from  Grenville ;  it 
seemed  impossible  to  endure  more.  But  who  could 
replace  him  ?  The  list  of  men  who  were  eligible 
and  who  would  be  acceptable  as  his  advisers  was 
lamentably  small,  even  supposing  him  to  sink  his 
honour,  all  his  own  feelings  and  convictions.  But 
the  necessity  was  too  obvious  to  be  disregarded,  and 
in  his  extremity  George  turned  to  his  uncle,  the 
Duke  of  Cumberland. 

Cumberland  had  by  no  means  acted  a  frank  and 
loyal  part  since  the  commencement  of  the  new  reign. 
So  far  from  lending  a  hand  to  his  nephew  and 
sovereign,  he  had  followed  the  course  which  princes 
of  the  blood  royal  are  so  often  prone  to  follow  from 
opposition  and  jealousy.  Cumberland  could  not  for- 
get that  it  was  he  who  had  put  down  the  Scottish 
rebellion  of  '45.  He  could  not  forget  that  he  was 
ardently  hated  by  the  Scots  and  the  Jacobites. 
However  much  he  might  be  "  butcher  Cumberland  " 
in  Jacobite  circles  and  to  the  north  of  the  Tweed, 
the  Whigs,  the  city,  and  the  anti-Bute  party  looked 
to  him  as  a  popular  hero. 


George  had  already  made  overtures  to  his  uncle ; 
he  now  repeated  these  overtures.  "  The  King,"  said 
the  Duke  in  his  own  subsequent  account  of  the 
negotiation,  "  the  better  to  put  me  aujait  of  the  true 
state  of  his  affairs  went  through  in  a  masterly  and 
exact  manner  all  that  had  passed  since  Lord  Bute 
resigned  the  Treasury.  He  also  went  through  Mr. 
Pitt's  two  audiences  of  August  1763,  particularising 
with  great  justice  the  characters  of  several  persons 
who  are  now  upon  the  stage  or  who  are  but  just 
dropped  off."1 

The  King  and  the  Duke  agreed  that  in  the 
present  temper  of  the  people  and  paucity  of  men  of 
eminent  talents  the  support  of  Pitt  was  essential  to 
a  strong  administration.  Pitt  was  now  confirmed  in 
his  gout,  his  inaccessibility,  and  his  prejudices,  and 
in  retreat  at  Hayes.  The  King,  therefore,  gave  the 
Duke  full  authority  to  come  to  terms  if  possible  with 
Pitt.  Some  hours  before  the  Regency  Bill  had 
been  put  to  the  vote  in  the  House  of  Commons, 
Cumberland  set  out  to  see  the  illustrious  invalid  at 
his  country  seat,  and  then  and  there  the  Duke  freely 
opened  his  mind. 

"  I  represented  to  him  the  manner  in  which  this 
administration  used  his  Majesty,  and  that  no  time 
was  to  be  lost,  as  Parliament  must  soon  be  up ;  that 
this  country  looked  up  to  him  as  the  man  who  had 
been  the  author  of  the  great  successes  during  the 
war ;  that  they  almost  universally  wished  him  at  the 
head  of  public  affairs." 2 

1  Rockingham  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  201. 

2  Ibid. 



"  Haughty,  pompous,  and  exorbitant "  as  the 
"  Great  Commoner  "  was,  yet  the  result  of  the  nego- 
tiations might  have  been  different  had  it  not  been  for 
the  influence  of  Pitt's  brother-in-law,  Temple,  who 
had  formerly  been  at  loggerheads  with  his  brother. 
Grenville  was  now  reconciled  to  him,  probably  owing 
to  Grenville's  indecent  conduct  towards  the  King. 
At  all  events  his  aspirations  now  tended  towards  a 
family  Ministry.  Intruding  on  the  conference  at 
Hayes,  Temple  succeeded  in  rendering  it  barren  of 

The  upshot  was  that  Cumberland  was  forced  to 
return  to  town,  bringing  "  nothing  but  compliments 
and  doubts  "  from  Pitt  to  the  King.  Still  weak  from 
his  illness,  George  was  greatly  depressed  at  the  failure 
of  the  Duke's  negotiations,  and  by  the  constant 
intrigues  and  indignities  to  which  he  was  subject. 
To  employ  Cumberland's  language,  "  Instead  of 
applying  themselves  to  the  good  of  the  public  in 
general  or  to  restore  to  his  Majesty  the  affections  of 
his  people,"  his  Ministers  insulted  his  Majesty  each 
day  with  "  deboires  and  indignities." 

Meanwhile  a  numerous  section  of  the  populace 
had  taken  to  rioting.  The  failure  of  the  silk 
weavers  to  compete  with  imported  silks  had  occa- 
sioned great  distress,  and  thousands  were  out  of 
employment.  A  Bill  for  their  relief  had  been 

1  A  few  weeks  before  in  one  of  his  extravagant  outbursts  in 
Parliament  Pitt  had  exclaimed  of  Temple,  "  He  is  my  friend,  his 
fidelity  is  as  unshaken  as  his  virtue.  We  went  into  office  together, 
and  we  went  out  of  office  together,  and  we  will  die  together." 
He  afterwards  changed  his  mind  about  his  brother-in-law — as  he 
had  done  about  Wilkes 



defeated  in  Parliament,  owing  mainly  to  the  opposi- 
tion of  the  Duke  of  Bedford.  Maddened  by  their 
distresses,  the  weavers  now  resolved  to  appeal  per- 
sonally to  their  sovereign.  Accordingly  they  marched 
to  Wimbledon,  where  the  King  had  gone  to  review 
some  troops.  George  received  them  with  kindness, 
and  listened  to  their  petition.  He  induced  them  to 
return  to  London  in  a  quiet  and  orderly  manner, 
promising  that  his  Ministers  would  look  into  their 
grievances.  But  the  rioters  apparently  had  little 
confidence  in  the  Duke  of  Bedford's  benevolence 
towards  them.  The  relations  of  the  Ministry  towards 
their  sovereign  was  an  open  secret. 

The  following  day  they  followed  the  King  to  the 
House  of  Lords,  treating  him  with  marked  deference 
and  respect.  As  for  Bedford,  he  was  the  object  of 
their  rage  and  violence.  They  broke  his  chariot,  and 
wounded  him  in  the  hand  and  forehead.  Nor  did 
they  rest  here ;  two  days  later  they  attacked  Bedford 
House,  which  required  large  forces  of  soldiery  to 
preserve  it  from  destruction.  Bedford  was  furious, 
and  ascribed  all  this  popular  violence  to  the  secret 
machinations  of  the  hapless  Earl  of  Bute.  There 
is  something  ludicrous  in  the  way  in  which  the 
King's  Ministers  on  the  one  hand  and  the  ignorant 
populace  on  the  other  poured  the  vials  of  their 
suspicion,  resentment,  and  revenge  on  the  devoted 
head  of  the  exiled  and  innocent  Earl. 

The  situation  grew  crucial.  Suspecting  that 
they  would  soon  lose  their  places,  the  Ministers  did 
little  or  nothing  to  quell  the  tumult.  To  many 
observers  a  rebellion  seemed  imminent,  and  doubtless 



the  capital  would  have  been  given  up  to  bloodshed 
and  mob  law  but  for  the  energy  and  decisiveness  of 
the  King.  He  ordered  a  regiment  stationed  at 
Chatham  to  march  towards  London.  He  wrote  to 
the  Duke  of  Cumberland  to  come  and  take  command 
of  the  troops  then  in  the  capital.  "  I  have  sent 
this,"  he  writes,  "  by  one  who  has  my  orders  not  to 
deliver  it  to  any  one  but  yourself,  and  to  bring  an 
immediate  answer,  and  also  your  opinion  when  and 
how  soon  we  can  meet ;  for  if  any  disturbance  should 
arise  in  the  night,  I  should  think  the  hour  proposed 
for  to-morrow  too  late."  He  told  the  supine 
Grenville  that  he  was  ready  to  "  put  himself  at  the 
head  of  his  army  or  do  anything  to  save  his  country." 

The  failure  of  the  negotiations  with  Pitt  became 
known  to  Bedford  and  his  colleagues  the  day  after 
the  rioters  were  induced  by  a  grant  of  money  and 
promises  on  the  part  of  their  employers  to  return  to 
their  homes.  The  tyrannous  Ministry  was  filled  with 
a  gleeful  triumph.  They  felt  now  that  they  were 
secure  in  their  offices,  and  met  straightway  at 
Bedford  House  to  concoct  terms  and  forge  new 
fetters  for  their  royal  master. 

George's  mortification  was  extreme.  He  told 
Grenville  that  no  doubt  he  "  had  acquitted  himself  to 
the  best  of  his  ability,  but  there  had  been  slackness, 
inability,  precipitation,  and  neglect  in  other  parts  of 
his  Government."  Grenville  began  a  tedious  narra- 
tion of  his  own  services  and  sacrifices,  finally  pro- 
nouncing his  opinion  that  his  Government  had 
been  a  success.  George  listened  with  ill-concealed 
impatience.  Good  or  bad,  weak  or  strong,  Govern- 


ment  must  be  carried  on.  Not  himself  alone,  but 
the  nation  was  far  from  content  with  the  present 
management  of  affairs ;  but  the  failure  of  his  recent 
overtures  to  the  Opposition  made  it  imperative  that 
Grenville  and  his  friends  should  continue  their  task. 
So  the  Minister  saw  his  friends,  and  returned  finally 
to  the  palace  with  his  list  of  "requisitions."  The 
King  in  the  first  place  must  solemnly  promise  that 
he  would  never  again  have  a  private  interview  with 
Bute.  Bute,  Bute,  Bute — it  was  ever  Bute  !  Stewart 
Mackenzie,  Bute's  brother,  must  be  dismissed  from 
the  sinecure  office  of  Privy  Seal  in  Scotland,  an  office 
which  the  King  had  pledged  his  honour  he  should 
retain.  Lord  Holland  should  be  removed  from 
the  Paymastership  of  the  Forces,  and  the  Marquis 
of  Granby  should  be  appointed  Commander-in-Chief 
of  the  Army. 

It  is  creditable  to  George  that  he  did  not  burst 
out  in  anger  at  the  Minister's  temerity.  He  said 
he  was  ready  to  promise  and  declare  that  neither 
directly  nor  indirectly,  publicly  nor  privately,  should 
Bute  influence  or  advise  him  in  affairs  of  State. 
He  also  surrendered  Lord  Holland  to  the  demands 
made  upon  him.  Any  difficulty  he  might  have 
had  about  Granby's  appointment  was  removed  by 
Granby's  own  respectful  action,  he  claiming  only  the 
succession  after  the  Duke  of  Cumberland's  demise 
or  retirement.  But  as  to  Mackenzie's  office,  he 
was  plunged  in  a  most  distressing  difficulty.  Not 
only  was  this  an  able  and  loyal  gentleman,  but  he 
the  King's  word  that  his  office  should  be  for 
life.  "  If  I  yielded  to  this  demand,"  exclaimed 



George,  "  I  should  be  disgraced."  "  I  informed 
him,"  says  Grenville,  "that  Mr.  Mackenzie's  absolute 
removal  was  considered  too  essential  an  object  to 
be  waived,  a  circumstance  which  evidently  appeared 
to  pain  and  distress  him.  He  then  asked  me  if 
'  I  concurred  with  those  gentlemen  in  thinking 
the  whole  indispensably  necessary  ? '  To  which  I 
answered,  '  He  should  do  me  the  justice  to  suppose 
I  should  never  offer  him  any  advice  of  which  I  did 
not  approve.'  Upon  this  he  told  me  that  it  was 
'with  the  greatest  reluctance  that  he  would  give 
way  to  it.'  Observing  that  he  continued  to  show 
marks  of  distress,  I  most  humbly  asked  him  to 
let  me  kiss  his  hand  and  leave  his  service,  as  I 
could  not  bear  to  be  the  channel  of  anything  which 
so  evidently  distressed  him.  He  answered,  '  I  have 
said  I  will  do  it,  can  you  expect  more  ? '  My 
entreaties  to  retire  and  these  expressions  in  return 
were  more  than  once  repeated." * 

"  I  will  not,"  added  George,  "  throw  my  king- 
dom into  confusion.  You  force  me  to  break  my 
word,  and  must  be  responsible  for  the  consequences. 
I  have  desired  you  to  stay  in  my  service;  I  see 
I  must  yield;  I  do  it  for  the  good  of  my  people." 
This  interview  took  place  between  three  and  four 
o'clock  in  the  morning  of  the  23rd  of  May. 

That  same  evening,  while  Bedford  and  his  col- 
leagues were  rejoicing  at  their  victory,  the  King  sent 
for  Mackenzie,  and  broke  to  him  the  unpleasant  news 
with  a  pathetic  dignity.  "  I  was  a  very  consider- 
able time  with  him,"  wrote  the  innocent  victim  of 

1  TownshendMS. 


Bedford's  hatred  of  Bute,  "  and  if  it  were  possible 
to  love  my  excellent  Prince  more  than  I  ever  did 
before,  I  should  certainly  do  it,  for  I  have  every 
reason  to  feel  his  goodness  to  me.  But  such  was  his 
Majesty's  situation  at  that  time,  that  had  he  abso- 
lutely rejected  my  dismission  he  would  have  put 
me  in  the  most  disagreeable  situation  in  the  world, 
and  what  was  of  much  higher  consequence,  he  would 
have  greatly  distressed  his  affairs." 

It  is  a  pity  that  certain  other  courtiers  were  not 
more  respectful  to  and  considerate  of  a  sovereign  who 
well  merited  all  their  respect  and  consideration. 




THESE  proceedings  as  may  well  be  supposed  exerted 
a  most  baneful  effect  on  George's  health  and 
disposition.  Could  it  be  wondered  at  that  he  pre- 
ferred to  court  seclusion  sooner  than  expose  him- 
self further  to  the  indignities  which  his  Ministers 
wished  to  put  upon  him :  rather  than  tempt  the 
idle  curiosity  of  the  vulgar?  But  although  his 
health  showed  signs  of  again  breaking  down,  he 
continued  even  in  seclusion  to  devote  himself  to 
business.  "There  is  one  man  in  the  kingdom,1' 
he  said,  "  who  has  nothing  to  expect  in  the  way 
of  bribes  and  rewards."  Complaints  were  perpetu- 
ally reaching  him  of  the  great  neglect  of  public 
business.  Albeit  the  Ministers  had  again  been 
confirmed  in  office,  yet  strict  attention  to  duty  was 
the  last  thing  that  entered  their  minds.  There 
was  no  unanimity  ;  the  King  himself  observed  that 
the  only  point  in  which  Bedford  and  Grenville 
were  in  agreement  was  that  of  laying  down  the 
law  to  him  !  They  proceeded  to  quarrel  about  the 
spoils  of  office.  "Neither  Halifax  nor  Sandwich," 
complained  George,  "do  any  business,  and  are  ex- 
tremely dilatory  in  public  affairs." 

Three   weeks   after  their   triumph    Bedford    de- 


manded  an  audience  of  the  King,  and  actually  had 
the  effrontery  to  read  his  sovereign  a  long  lecture. 
He  and  his  friends  were  not  yet  satisfied  with  the 
degree  of  favour  which  he  accorded  to  them ;  they 
were  going  out  of  town  to  enjoy  the  diversions  of 
the  country,  and  would  give  him  a  month  to  con- 
sider his  conduct.  They  hoped  he  would  agree  to 
smile  on  his  Ministers  and  frown  on  their  adver- 
saries. Allusions  to  the  King's  mother  and  Lord 
Bute  were  audaciously  introduced.  George  spoke 
not  a  word.  Only  when  the  Duke  had  gone  he 
permitted  himself  an  observation :  "  If,"  said  he, 
"  I  had  not  broken  out  into  a  profuse  perspiration, 
my  indignation  would  have  suffocated  me ! "  The 
King's  conduct  certainly  redounds  very  much  to 
his  self-control.  Had  the  Duke's  charges  of  perfidy 
and  falsehood  been  made  by  one  private  gentleman 
to  another,  the  scene  would  have  had  a  somewhat 
violent  interruption.  George  III.  listened  "  coolly 
and  temperately"  to  the  Duke.  Macaulay's  signifi- 
cant comment  is  that  George  II.  would  have  kicked 
him  out  of  the  room. 

Clearly  enough  now  did  the  King  see  that  it  was 
impossible  to  go  on  in  such  fashion.  The  capricious 
Pitt  must  be  appealed  to  again,  and  if  Pitt  refused, 
the  old  Whigs  must  be  asked  to  put  their  shoulders 
to  the  wheel  of  Government.  The  "Great  Com- 
moner" came  to  town,  and  two  further  interviews 
took  place  at  Buckingham  House.  Pitt  wrote  that 
the  King's  manner  to  him  was  most  gracious.  "  I 
am  indeed  touched  with  the  manner  and  royal  frank- 
riess  which  I  had  the  happiness  to  find."  But  once 

K  145 


again  the  interviews  resulted  in  nothing.  Temple, 
whom  Pitt  desired  to  be  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury, 
absolutely  refused  to  take  office.  Pitt  pleaded  that 
without  the  support  of  his  two  brothers-in-law  his 
health  and  increasing  years  made  the  task  of  forming 
a  vigorous  administration  quite  hopeless. 

An  appeal  to  the  Opposition  Whigs  now  re- 
mained. Once  all-powerful,  this  party  had  fallen 
through  death  and  defection  from  its  high  estate. 
Nevertheless  the  old  Duke  of  Newcastle  remained, 
and  he  consented  to  serve  as  a  go-between  for  the 
purpose  of  forming  a  Ministry.  In  the  Marquis  of 
Rockingham  a  leader  was  found  who  was  chiefly 
distinguished  by  his  wealth,  manners,  and  untar- 
nished character.  The  Duke  of  Grafton  and  General 
Conway  were  made  Secretaries  of  State.  Newcastle, 
although  only  given  the  office  of  Lord  of  the  Privy 
Seal,  yet  obtained,  much  to  his  satisfaction,  the 
Church  patronage.  The  Whig  nobles,  such  as  the 
Cavendishes,  gave  their  support  to  the  Ministry, 
which,  although  not  strong,  yet  promised  to  make 
up  by  zeal  and  energy  what  it  lacked  in  ability 
and  experience.  Lord  Chesterfield  said  that  "The 
Ministry  was  an  arch  which  wanted  its  keystone," 
meaning  Pitt.  There  was  absolutely  no  excuse  for 
Pitt's  obstinacy ;  but  all  that  could  be  got  from  the 
"Great  Commoner"  was,  that  although  the  char- 
acters of  the  new  Ministers  were  good,  he  could 
not  give  them  his  confidence.  He  was  sorry,  vastly 
sorry,  but  he  could  not  support  them. 

These  arrangements  were  a  blow  to  Grenville  and 
his  friends.  Still  believing  themselves  all-powerful, 



and  that  the  King  and  country  could  not  do 
without  them,  they  were  thrown  into  confusion  by 
Grenville's  receipt  of  the  King's  command,  that  he 
should  repair  to  St.  James's  accompanied  by  the  seal 
of  office.  Grenville  obeyed,  and  face  to  face  with  his 
sovereign  for  the  last  time  desired  to  be  informed 
how  he  had  incurred  his  Majesty's  displeasure. 

George  did  not  waste  words.  He  had  been 
obliged  to  change  his  Ministers,  he  said,  "  owing  to 
the  great  constraint  they  put  upon  him.  Instead 
of  asking  his  advice,  they  expected  him  to  obey." 
With  every  wish  in  the  world  that  the  machinery 
of  the  State  should  work  smoothly,  that  was  not 
George's  idea  of  monarchy.  And  so  the  Grenville 
Ministry  went  its  way,  unmourned  by  the  people, 
and  regretted  by  none  who  had  the  true  interests  of 
his  country  at  heart. 

There  naturally  arises  the  question,  in  what  light 
did  George  himself  view  the  Marquis  of  Rocking- 
ham?      He  was  certainly  surprised  that  the  choice 
)f  the  Old  Whigs  should  have  fallen  upon  a  states- 
tan   of  such   slender   parts.     Rockingham   had   no 
itellectual  weight ;  he  was  no  debater,  and  his  per- 
formances in  that  direction  in  the  House  frequently 
iasioned  his  friends  great  uneasiness.      The   real 
>urce  and  strength  of  the  Ministry  lay  in  the  sup- 
>rt  of  Cumberland,  who  had  lately  provoked  the 
unity  of  the  Bedford  faction.    Had  the  Duke  lived, 
ie  Rockingham  administration  might  not  only  have 
enjoyed  a  greater  degree  of  respect  and  popularity, 
>ut  would  have  had  a  much  longer  tenure.      Un- 
ippily  in  four  months  the  untimely  death  of  the 



Duke  took  place.  Robbed  of  his  counsels,  the 
Ministry  were  not  slow  in  revealing  to  the  public, 
as  they  had  already  revealed  to  the  King,  their  real 
weakness  and  inefficiency.  George  himself,  though 
convinced  of  Rockingham's  honesty  and  good  inten- 
tions, continually  regretted  many  of  his  deficiencies, 
not  least  his  inability  to  express  himself  in  Parlia- 
ment. He  was  always  impressing  on  his  Ministers 
the  value  of  a  bold  and  clear  verbal  statement  of 
their  policy.  When  Rockingham  had  so  far  con- 
quered his  natural  timidity  to  address  the  House, 
the  King  wrote  to  him  privately,  "  I  am  much 
pleased  that  the  Opposition  has  forced  you  to  hear 
your  own  voice,  which  I  hope  will  encourage  you  to 
stand  forth  in  other  debates."1  But  he  could  not 
overlook  Rockingham's  moral  cowardice.  George 
himself  hated  and  despised  any  truckling  to  the  mob. 
From  first  to  last  the  great  end  of  the  Rocking- 
ham Ministry  was  popularity.  They  had,  in  the 
modern  political  phrase,  an  ear  constantly  to  the 
ground.  They  would  do  nothing  to  offend  or  stir 
the  reprobation  of  the  vulgar.  Not  far  from  right 
was  Grenville,  when  he  characterised  the  real  rule  of 
the  country  as  "  mob  rule."  They  were  so  absurdly 
squeamish  of  giving  offence,  that  when  the  ignorant 
rabble  still  persisted  in  crying  out  "Down  with 
Bute  ! "  they  insisted  that  the  King  should  again  be 
enjoined  to  have  nothing  further  to  do  with  Lord 
Bute.  Again  George  assured  them  that  he  had  had, 
and  would  have,  nothing  further  to  do  with  Lord 
Bute;  again  he  had  to  listen  to  their  insensate 

1   Rockingkam  i Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  271. 


jealousy  and  suspicion.  They  turned  out  the  Earl 
of  Northumberland,  notwithstanding  his  services  to 
the  party,  because  he  had  fallen  in  love  with  and 
married  one  of  Bute's  daughters.  The  timidity  of 
the  administration,  and  its  desire  to  placate  every- 
body, was  now  to  be  put  to  a  supreme  trial. 

On  the  22nd  March  1765  the  American  Stamp 
Act  had  received  the  royal  assent.  Not  until  the 
1st  of  November  following  was  it  to  come  into  opera- 
tion. The  interval  was  a  fatal  one ;  it  granted  all 
the  time  needed  to  accumulate  opposition  in  America 
and  to  organise  a  revolt  against  the  law.  The  leaven 
which  had  been  introduced  into  America  now  began 
to  work.  The  Americans  had  not  been  spectators 
of  England's  political  follies  and  ineptitudes  without 
enlightenment.  Only  a  few  years  had  passed  since 
the  Colonies  were  held  to  be  of  little  consideration  in 
England ;  now  the  debates  in  Parliament  evinced 
that  they  had  assumed  overwhelming  importance. 
The  Colonists  heard  with  surprise  that  the  very 
existence  of  Great  Britain  as  a  commercial  nation 
depended  on  American  trade.  They  became  seized 
with  the  consciousness  of  their  strength  arid  splen- 
dour. To  any  discipline  they  were  little  accustomed. 
They  had  known  no  burdens.  Pettifogging  lawyers 
harangued  them  ;  they  were  incited  by  many  of  their 
leading  men  whose  worldly  prosperity  was  derived 
from  smuggling.  The  more  recalcitrant  spirits  arose 
and  urged  that  Massachusetts  should  be  wholly 
exempt  from  taxation.  The  American  trade  was 
and  should  be  the  sole  recompense  of  England  for 
her  vast  expenditure  in  the  Colonies. 



This  unfortunate  dispute  was  artificial  and  hypo- 
critical from  beginning  to  end.  The  arguments 
preceding  the  American  schism  have  been  thoroughly 
thrashed  out  by  a  hundred  historians.  The  Stamp 
Act,  it  seems  to  us,  was  a  simple  measure  of  justice 
to  England,  but  in  the  anomalous  relations  in  which 
America  stood  to  the  Mother  Country  it  certainly 
gave  rise  to  emphatic  doubts  of  its  wisdom  and  of 
its  practical  efficacy.  There  was  no  tyranny  about 
it.  Tyranny  is  the  last  word  one  would  use,  or  ought 
to  use,  in  connection  with  the  Stamp  Act.  "  It  was 
the  sort  of  tax,"  says  a  recent  impartial  American 
writer,  "which  we  levied  on  ourselves  during  the 
Civil  War,  and  again  at  the  time  of  the  war  with 
Spain.  It  is  unquestionably  the  fairest,  most  equally 
distributed,  and  easiest  to  collect  of  all  forms  of 

The  Act  had  a  violent  reception  in  America. 
Copies  were  hawked  about  the  streets  of  New  York 
with  a  death's  head  affixed  in  lieu  of  the  King's  arms. 
In  Boston  the  flags  of  the  shipping  in  the  harbour 
were  placed  at  half-mast.  The  church  bells  were 
muffled,  and  a  funeral  knell  was  tolled.  At  Phila- 
delphia many  of  the  guns  in  the  town  and  parks 
were  spiked  by  gangs  of  unapprehended  malcontents. 
But  the  phenomenon,  the  most  singular,  and  yet  at 
the  same  time  when  we  understand  how  little  the 
Colonies  had  advanced  in  an  apprehension  of  what 
constitutional  monarchy  had  grown  to  be,  in  their 
ignorance  of  their  King's  real  character,  perhaps  not 

1  S.   G.    Fisher,    The    True   Story  of  the  American  Revolution, 
p.  55. 




so  inexplicable,  was  their  instant  association  of  what 
they  termed  the  "  tyranny  "  of  Britain  with  George 
III.  Immediately  an  identity  was  established,  not  a 
constitutional  but  a  personal  identity,  between  British 
policy  towards  America  and  the  temper  and  inten- 
tions of  the  sovereign.  And  this  identity  continued 
in  men's  minds,  even  men  the  most  intelligent  and 
the  most  informed,  until  after  the  Revolution,  and, 
alas !  that  it  should  be  said,  amongst  some  down 
to  the  present  day. 

In  Virginia,  Patrick  Henry,  a  fair  type  of  the 
unruly,  narrow-minded  country  attorney  class,  which 
for  the  next  dozen  years  were  to  heap  fuel  upon 
the  flames,  a  man  who  had  been  a  jack-of-all 
trades,  unsuccessfully  hitherto,  cried  out  in  the  Vir- 
ginian House  of  Burgesses,  "  Ceesar  had  his  Brutus, 
Charles  I.  his  Cromwell,  and  George  III. — "  here 
the  cry  of  "  treason "  which  was  raised  prevented 
the  orator  from  mentioning  the  name  of  the  indi- 
vidual— or  was  it  community  ? — who  was  to  play  the 
regicide's  part.  At  all  events  a  combination  was 
formed  in  America  to  oppose  the  law  and  abstain 
from  complying  with  its  provisions  as  far  as  con- 
cerned the  use  of  stamps.  Representatives  of  nine 
of  the  Colonies  met  in  Congress.  They  passed  four- 
teen resolutions — a  petition  to  the  King,  another 
to  the  House  of  Commons,  and  a  memorial  to  the 
House  of  Lords.  They  would  not  be  persuaded  to 
a  full  recognition  of  the  authority  of  Parliament  in 
matters  of  taxation,  but  professed  allegiance  to  the 
Crown,  and  "  due  subordination  "  to  the  two  Houses. 
By  their  resolutions,  they  declared  themselves  eri- 


titled  to  all  the  rights  of  subjects  born  within  the 
realm  of  Great  Britain.  They  pronounced  it  essential 
to  the  freedom  of  a  people  to  be  taxed  only  with 
their  own  consent ;  but  the  Colonies  neither  were  nor 
could,  from  local  circumstances,  be  represented  in 
the  British  House  of  Commons  ;  their  only  represen- 
tatives were  in  their  Colonial  legislatures  ;  and  except 
by  them  no  taxes  had  been  or  could  be  constitution- 
ally imposed.  They  defined  supplies  to  be  gifts,  and 
therefore  inferred  that  the  Commons  of  Great  Britain 
could  not  constitutionally  grant  away  American 
property.  They  claimed  trial  by  jury  as  the  right  of 
the  subject ;  the  Stamp  Act,  and  other  acts  of  trade, 
tended  to  subvert  that  right.  The  duties  lately  im- 
posed were  grievous,  and  the  payment  impracticable  ; 
the  profits  of  their  commerce  centred  in  Great 
Britain,  and  therefore  the  inhabitants  of  America 
contributed  largely  to  all  supplies.  .  .  .  They  claimed, 
as  subjects,  the  right  of  petitioning  King,  Lords,  and 
Commons,  and  declared  it  was  their  duty,  by  a  loyal 
address  to  the  King,  and  humble  application  to  both 
Houses,  to  procure  a  repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act  and 
others  restricting  trade  and  extending  the  Admiralty 
jurisdictions.  The  Congress  concluded  by  recom- 
mending each  Colony  to  advance  its  interests  by  a 
special  agent  in  Britain.1 

Besides  these  resolutions,  associations  were  set  on 
foot  in  all  the  Colonies  to  prevent  the  importation  of 
British  manufactures  until  the  Stamp  Act  should  be 
repealed.  The  ships  which  arrived  from  England 
with  the  stamp  papers  might  as  well  have  never  put 

1  Adolphus,  vol.  i.  pp.  185-6. 


forth  on  their  errand.  The  stamps  were  confiscated 
or  withheld,  and  the  whole  country  was  aflame. 

Tidings  of  all  this  violent  misconduct  could 
only  greatly  distress  the  timid  Rockingham  Ministry. 
Here  again  it  was  plain  they  had  more  mob  rule 
to  deal  with.  Assuming  that  America,  as  many  of 
the  Americans  themselves  claimed,  was  an  integral 
part  of  the  kingdom,  to  whom  were  the  law-abiding, 
well-disposed,  and  loyal  subjects  of  the  sovereign 
overseas  to  look  when  peace  and  order  were  threat- 
ened ?  If  Somersetshire,  or  Middlesex,  or  Cumber- 
land arose  in  revolt  and  refused  to  obey  the 
mandate  of  the  King  a  regiment  of  soldiers  would 
be  sent  to  enforce  the  law.  On  the  face  of  things 
the  Colonists  had  rebelled,  they  had  refused  to  obey 
the  law.  What  course  in  this  crisis  was  the  Ministry 
to  take  ?  "  I  am  more  and  more  grieved,"  wrote  the 
King  to  Secretary  Conway  on  the  6th  December, 
"with  the  accounts  from  America.  Where  this 
spirit  will  end  is  not  to  be  said.  It  is  undoubtedly 
the  most  serious  matter  that  ever  came  before  Parlia- 
ment. It  requires  more  deliberation,  candour,  and 
temper  than  I  fear  it  will  meet  with.1'  One  hardly 
recognises  here  the  accents  of  a  tyrant.  "  One  of  the 
first  persons  in  England,"  remarks  Lecky,  "  who  fully 
realised  the  magnitude  of  the  question  was  the  King." 

In  view  of  the  open  defiance  and  insult  which  had 
been  meted  out  to  the  servants  of  the  Crown  in 
America,  strong  and  immediate  action  had  to  be 
taken.  The  honour  of  England,  of  the  King,  of 
Parliament  was  at  stake.  But  there  was  another  con- 
sideration. Petitions  poured  in  from  the  merchants 



of  the  kingdom — London,  Bristol,  Liverpool,  and 
other  towns — stating  that  unless  this  question  were 
settled  and  America  propitiated  at  once,  their  affairs 
would  be  bankrupt.  The  Colonists  owed  English 
merchants  several  millions  sterling  for  English  goods 
sent  to  them,  which  they  could  not,  owing  to  the 
general  boycott,  receive  or  pay  for.  The  Stamp  Act 
threatened  English  commerce  with  ruin,  and  many 
thousands  of  artisans  throughout  the  country  were 
idle.  Thus  the  Ministry  were  between  two  fires. 

On  the  17th  December  Parliament  met,  and  little 
time  was  lost  in  ascertaining  the  temper  of  the 
different  parties.  Grenville  would  have  treated  the 
Colonists  as  rebels,  and  enforced  obedience  with  the 
sword.  Their  conduct  was  without  excuse  or  pal- 
liation. England  governed  her  Colonies  liberally, 
and  had  granted  them  real  political  liberty.  "  If 
Ministers,"  he  said,  "  now  repeal  the  Stamp  Act,  they 
will  be  guilty  of  treachery  to  England,  they  would 
humiliate  the  British  Parliament  before  the  Empire 
and  before  the  world.  The  unity  of  the  Empire  would 
be  but  a  name,  and  America  would  be  a  source  of 
weakness  rather  than  strength."  Thereafter  the  surest 
way  of  inducing  Parliament  to  repeal  any  obnoxious 
tax  was  to  refuse  to  pay  it,  and  to  incite  the  mob  to 
oppose  the  tax  collectors. 

Pitt's  course  was  taken  from  the  first.  He 
declared  on  the  floor  of  Parliament  his  settled 
conviction  that  supreme  as  was  the  legislative  power 
of  the  Mother  Country  on  every  point,  yet  America 
being  unrepresented  in  the  British  Parliament, 
Britain  had  no  right  to  tax  Americans  without  their 


own  consent.  He  took  no  note,  however,  of  the  fact 
that  they  refused  to  be  represented  in  Parliament, 
to  tax  themselves,  or  to  contribute  even  to  their 
own  protection.  He  called  for  the  immediate  repeal 
of  the  Stamp  Act  as  an  unwarrantable  and  uncon- 
stitutional measure.  If  the  American  malcontents 
needed  any  further  incitement  to  their  present 
conduct,  Pitt  in  his  speech  on  this  occasion  afforded 
all  that  their  hearts  could  desire.  "  The  gentleman," 
he  said,  alluding  to  Grenville,  "  tells  us  that  America 
is  obstinate,  that  America  is  almost  in  open  rebellion. 
Sir,  I  rejoice  that  America  has  resisted.  Three 
millions  of  people,  so  dead  to  all  feelings  of  liberty 
as  to  voluntarily  be  slaves,  would  be  fitting  instru- 
ments to  make  slaves  of  the  rest."  The  absolute 
inapplicability  of  such  a  figure  to  the  status  of 
Americans,  who  were  far  freer,  both  from  taxation 
and  restraint,  than  the  Englishmen  of  that  period, 
must  strike  forcibly  the  candid  reader  of  to-day. 

Pitt's  utter  inconsistency  is  shown  in  a  further 
passage  of  that  speech.  He  insisted  that  the  Stamp 
Act  should  be  repealed  "  absolutely,  totally,  and 
immediately."  At  the  same  time,  "  Let  the  sovereign 
authority  of  this  country  over  the  Colonies  be 
asserted  in  as  strong  terms  as  can  be  devised,  and  be 
made  to  extend  to  every  point  of  legislation  whatso- 
ever ;  that  we  may  bind  their  trade,  confine  their 
manufactures,  and  exercise  every  power  whatsoever, 
except  that  of  taking  their  money  out  of  their 
pockets  without  their  consent." 

On  a  later  occasion  he  actually  declared  that  if 
America  should  manufacture  a  stocking,  or  so  much 



as  forge  a  hobnail,  he  would  let  fall  on  her  the 
whole  of  the  British  Empire."  So  much  for  Pitt's 
notions  of  liberty ! 

Pratt,  Lord  Camden,  ventured  in  the  House  of 
Lords  upon  a  legal  dictum  even  rasher  than  any 
promulgated  in  the  Lower  House.  "  Taxation  and 
representation,"  he  said,  "are  inseparable.  This 
position  is  founded  on  the  laws  of  Nature ;  nay,  more, 
it  is  itself  an  eternal  law  of  Nature.  For  whatever  is 
a  man's  own  is  absolutely  his  own.  No  man  has  a 
right  to  take  it  from  him  without  his  consent,  either 
expressed  by  himself  or  representative.  Whoever 
attempts  to  do  it  attempts  an  injury.  Whoever 
does  it  commits  a  robbery  !  " 

Rockingham  and  his  friends  soon  made  up  their 
minds  to  repeal  the  Stamp  Act.  They  were  afraid 
of  Pitt.  Rockingham  wrote  to  the  King :  "  The 
events  of  yesterday  in  the  House  of  Commons  have 
shown  the  amazing  power  and  influence  which  Mr. 
Pitt  has  whenever  he  takes  part  in  debate."  Pitt, 
he  said,  must  be  got  to  assume  a  cordial  attitude. 
But  George  pointed  out  that  the  absolute  repeal  of 
the  Stamp  Act  would  be  a  mistake.  In  the  first 
place,  it  would  put  the  Mother  Country  in  a  false  and 
humiliating  position.  There  were  many  measures 
which  stood  on  the  statute  book  which  nobody  in  his 
senses  wished  to  carry  out  in  their  full  rigour.  At 
the  same  time  George  did  not  agree  with  Grenville ; 
he  did  not  share  his  late  Minister's  unbending  temper 
towards  the  Colonies.  As  he  wrote  Rockingham,  " 
desire  you  would  tell  Lord  Strange  that  I  am  now, 
and  have  been  heretofore,  for  modification ;  but  that 



when  many  were  for  enforcing  it,  I  was  then  for  the 
repealing  of  the  Stamp  Act."  "  Should  there  be  no 
middle  course,"  he  said  again,  "  between  repealing 
the  Act  and  enforcing  it  by  the  sword,  I  would  in 
that  case  be  in  favour  of  repealing." 

But  the  hasty  repeal  of  the  Act  at  the  behest  of 
the  mob  and  clamour  of  interested  politicians  was 
unwise  and  unnecessary.  George  made  no  secret  of 
his  opinion  that  the  Act  should  be  modified  until  the 
Americans  could  not  but  accept  its  mild  provisions 
rather  than  annul  it.  He  had  in  his  hands,  what  his 
Ministers  too  often  ignored,  the  strongest  representa- 
tions from  his  American  subjects;  not  only  governors 
and  officials,  but  the  leading  men  in  the  Colonies 
urged  the  retention  of  the  Stamp  Act  as  a  wise  and 
just  measure. 

Not  enough  is  made  by  historians  of  this  period 
of  the  great  influence  on  the  King's  mind  which 
these  representations  exerted,  and  as  time  went  on 
the  whole  of  the  King's  attitude  towards  America 
may  justly  be  ascribed  to  the  professions  of  loyalty 
and  allegiance  emanating  from  the  better  class  of 
Colonists  themselves.  When  he  saw  that  Rocking- 
ham  was  bent  on  repeal  he  gave  way.  The  King  stood 
by  Rockingham  in  spite  of  the  fact  that  Townshend, 
Barrington,  and  the  Lord  Chancellor  Northington 
were  all  against  his  Prime  Minister,  and  of  Gren- 
ville's  way  of  thinking.  "  I  have  your  resolution 
of  standing  firmly  by  the  American  question,"  he 
wrote  to  Rockingham,  "which  will  certainly  direct 
my  language  to  the  Chancellor."1 

1  Rockingham  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  297. 



One  of  the  Court  officials,  Lord  Strange,  happen- 
ing to  mention  the  subject  of  repeal  to  the  King, 
learnt,  while  the  fate  of  the  Bill  was  still  in  the 
balance,  that  his  Majesty  would  have  favoured  modi- 
fication. "Lord  Strange,"  says  Grenville,  "told 
everybody  he  met  of  the  discourse  his  Majesty  had 
held  with  him,  which  was  in  direct  contradiction  of 
what  had  been  propagating  for  the  last  two  days  by 
the  Ministers."  It  ran  about  the  town  before  night- 
fall that  the  King  was  opposed  to  repeal,  and 
Rockingham  in  alarm  sought  out  Strange  and  carried 
him  off  to  the  palace.  In  Rockingham's  presence 
Strange  asked  the  King  whether  he  had  rightly 
understood  him.  To  which  George  answered  in  the 
affirmative.  Rockingham  then  drew  forth  a  Council 
paper  on  which  it  was  recorded  that  his  Majesty  had 
resolved  in  favour  of  repeal.  "  My  lord,"  said  the 
King,  "  this  is  but  half,"  and  taking  out  a  pencil  he 
instantly  added  these  words  to  the  bottom  of  the 
paper:  "The  question  asked  me  by  my  Ministers 
was  whether  I  was  for  enforcing  the  Act  by  the 
sword  or  for  its  repeal  ?  Of  two  extremes  I  was 
for  the  repeal,  but  most  certainly  prefer  modification 
to  either." l 

Despite  the  opposition  of  Grenville,  Bedford,  and 
Temple,  who  had  banded  themselves  together  to 

1  The  King's  conduct  was  alike  frank  and  dignified.  He 
avowed  what  he  had  said  to  Lord  Strange,  rebuked  Lord  Rock- 
ingham for  telling  but  half  the  story,  and  boldly,  and  we  dare  say 
somewhat  indignantly,  wrote,  so  as  to  admit  of  no  misrepresenta- 
tion, on  Lord  Rockingham's  paper  the  important  qualification  of 
his  opinion  which  Lord  Rockingham  had  suppressed. — Quarterly 
Review,  vol.  Ixxvii.  p.  286. 



defeat  the  Repeal  Bill  in  Parliament,  the  Bill  was 
carried  by  a  large  majority.  Grenville  really  seems 
to  have  regarded  repeal  as  a  national  calamity.  He 
took  the  most  extraordinary  means  of  prevailing 
upon  the  King  to  grant  a  personal  interview  to  Bed- 
ford or  Temple,  in  order  to  represent  to  him  the 
"  distressed  situation  of  his  affairs."  Apparently  still 
obsessed  by  the  idea  that  Bute  had  intimate  rela- 
tions with  the  King,  they  actually  had  recourse  to 
Bute.  Bute  informed  them  coldly  that  he  knew 
nothing  of  the  King's  opinions,  and  never  saw  him. 
He  had  not  even  seen  the  King  for  many  months 
past.  Bedford  and  Grenville  were  crestfallen,  and 
before  leaving  hoped  that  Bute  would  keep  their 
meeting  a  secret.  "  There  is  nothing,  gentlemen,  of 
which  /  am  ashamed,"  was  the  Earl's  frigid  answer. 

They  finally  prevailed  on  the  King's  brother,  the 
Duke  of  York,  to  demand  an  audience  for  Bedford, 
to  urge  retention  of  the  Stamp  Act.  Conquering 
his  surprise,  George  remarked  that  it  had  ever  been 
a  rule  with  him  to  grant  an  interview  to  any  noble- 
man who  made  the  request  to  him.  But  the  measure 
Bedford  desired  to  discuss  was  under  the  considera- 
tion of  Parliament,  and  they  must  abide  its  decision. 
So  this  attempt  at  influencing  the  King  failed. 

Opposition,  however,  frightened  the  Ministry  into 
something.  It  was  decided  that  the  act  of  repeal 
be  prefaced  by  a  Declaratory  Act  affirming  the 
right  of  Parliament  to  make  laws  binding  the 
British  Colonies  "  in  all  cases  whatsoever,"  and  con- 
demning as  unlawful  the  votes  of  the  Colonial 
Assemblies  which  had  denied  to  Parliament  the 


right  of  taxing  them.  It  is  not  unlikely  that 
without  this  declaration  Rockingham  would  have 
found  it  difficult  ta  have  carried  the  Bill.  Shel- 
burne  wrote  to  say  that  "  The  prejudice  against  the 
Americans  on  the  whole  seems  very  great,  and  no 
very  decided  opinion  in  favour  of  the  Ministry." 
The  outrages  committed  by  the  Americans  aroused 
widespread  indignation.  Very  few,  if  any,  sup- 
posed that  the  Declaratory  Act  would  evoke  any 
further  disfavour  by  the  Americans.  Benjamin 
Franklin,  at  that  time  in  London,  stated  to  a 
Parliamentary  Committee  his  opinion  that  "  The 
resolutions  of  right  would  give  his  country  very 
little  concern  if  they  are  never  attempted  to  be 
carried  into  practice." 

The  repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act  produced  instan- 
taneous joy.  But  a  comparison  of  the  bell-ringing 
and  jubilation  with  which  the  news  of  the  repeal  was 
greeted  in  America  as  well  as  in  Britain,  with  the 
scenes  and  language  which  were  shortly  to  prevail, 
fills  us  with  a  powerful  distrust  of  the  foresight  oi 
our  ancestors.  The  American  mob  had  triumphed, 
and  for  the  present  there  seemed  no  reason  why  they 
should  try  to  foment  a  quarrel  between  Britain  and 
the  Colonies.  This  to  professional  agitators  was 
ample  cause  for  regret.  The  regret  was  but  momen- 
tary ;  the  lawyer  was  abroad  in  the  land,  and  other 
causes  for  agitation  would  quickly  be  found  by  his 
restless  and  too  ingenious  brain. 

For  a  brief  interval  the  American  aristocracy 
and  the  professional  classes  apart  from  the  law 
could  breathe  freely  and  testify  to  their  loyalty, 
1 60 


Only  a  few  cavillers  ventured  to  murmur  against 
the  resolution  of  the  Philadelphian  Quakers  that 
"  To  demonstrate  our  zeal  to  Great  Britain  and  our 
gratitude  for  the  repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act,  each 
of  us  will  on  the  4th  of  June  next,  being  the 
birthday  of  our  gracious  sovereign,  dress  ourselves 
in  a  new  suit  of  the  manufactures  of  England, 
and  give  what  homespun  clothes  we  have  to  the 

If,  it  followed,  the  Americans  were  to  be  placated 
and  pandered  to,  nothing  less  could  be  done  for  the 
rebellious  cyder  counties.  It  is  true  that  against 
the  cyder  tax,  as  Lord  North  afterwards  said,  there 
were  never  two  syllables  of  common-sense  urged. 
Nevertheless  it  was  repealed,  and  the  Act  for  re- 
straining the  importation  of  foreign  silks,  which 
Bedford  had  opposed,  was  also  passed. 

"  The  Colonists,"  says  an  American  writer  dis- 
tinguished by  unusual  candour,  "  were  certainly 
lucky  in  having  chanced  upon  a  Whig  administra- 
tion for  their  great  appeal  against  taxation.  It  has 
often  been  said  that  both  the  Declaratory  Act  and 
the  repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act  were  a  combination 
of  sound  constitutional  law  and  sound  policy,  and 
that  if  this  same  AVhig  line  of  conduct  had  been 
afterwards  consistently  followed,  England  would  not 
have  lost  her  American  Colonies.  No  doubt  if  such 
a  Whig  policy  had  been  continued  the  Colonies 
would  have  been  retained  in  nominal  dependence  a 
few  years  longer.  But  such  a  policy  would  have 
left  the  Colonies  in  their  semi-independent  condi- 
tion without  further  remodelling  or  reform,  with 

L  161 


British  sovereignty  unestablished  in  them,  and  with 
a  powerful  party  of  the  Colonists  elated  by  their 
victory  over  England.  They  would  have  gone  on 
demanding  more  independence,  until  they  snapped 
the  last  string."1  The  continuance,  therefore,  of 
the  agitation  in  America  as  long  as  agitators  were 
unsuppressed  in  England  was  inevitable. 

1  S.  G.  Fisher,  True  Story  of  the  American  Revolution,  p.  78. 




WHILE  the  Bill  for  the  repeal  of  the  American 
Stamp  Act  was  still  before  Parliament,  Rocking- 
ham  had  been  urging  upon  George  the  necessity 
of  obtaining  the  cordial  support  of  Pitt.  In  the 
debates  the  Ministers  were  constantly  addressing 
the  "  Great  Commoner "  as  if  he  were  the  missing 
keystone  in  the  administrative  arch.  They  were 
perpetually  deferring  to  him,  ever  apologising  for 
their  own  presumption.  And  indeed  Pitt's  refusal  to 
join  the  Rockingham  administration  is  deserving  of 
nothing  but  opprobrium.  Everything  had  been  done 
to  conciliate  him ;  the  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury 
had  actually  expressed,  on  behalf  of  himself  and  his 
colleagues,  their  readiness  "to  be  disposed  of  as 
he  pleased,  if  he  would  only  place  himself  at  their 
head."  In  Pitt's  own  words,  "  Faction  was  shaking 
and  corruption  sapping  the  country  to  its  foundations." 
True,  and  he  did  nothing ! 

Under  these  circumstances  the  King  could  hardly 
compromise  his  conduct  any  further  by  making  over- 
tures to  his  capricious  subject.  "  I  have  revolved," 
he  wrote  on  the  9th  January  1766  to  Lord  Rocking- 
ham, "  most  coolly  and  attentively,  the  business  now 
before  me,  and  am  of  opinion  that  so  loose  a  conversa- 



tion  as  that  of  Mr.  Pitt  and  Mr.  Townshend  is  not 
sufficient  to  risk  either  my  dignity  or  the  continuance 
of  my  administration,  by  a  fresh  treaty  with  that 
gentleman.  For  if  it  should  miscarry,  all  public 
opinion  of  this  Ministry  would  be  destroyed  by 
such  an  attempt." 

In  spite  of  Pitt's  petulance  and  intractability, 
Rockingham,  Grafton,  Townshend,  and  the  rest 
persisted.  Pitt  still  refused  the  proffered  terms  in 
disdain.  "  He  would,"  he  said,  "  never  again  act 
in  concert  with  the  Duke  of  Newcastle."  He  had 
a  dozen  reasons  ;  he  resented  this,  he  disliked  that 
with  more  than  feminine  mutability.  Edmund 
Burke,  Rockingham's  brilliant  private  secretary, 
wrote  of  him  as  "on  his  back  at  Hayes,  talking 

During  this  period  of  his  seclusion,  however, 
courted  and  flattered  as  he  was,  Pitt's  principles 
and  attitude  towards  his  former  political  associates 
had  been  undergoing  a  not  unnatural  change.  Ego- 
mania had  always  led  him  into  an  impatience  of 
all  parties.  He  regarded  himself  as  the  special 
mouthpiece  and  champion  of  the  people.  He  now 
began  to  perceive  that  such  a  role  made  him  also 
the  peculiar  coadjutor  of  King  George.  By  the 
King  and  Pitt  the  nation  could  be  governed,  for 
what  was  the  King  and  Pitt  but  another  name 
for  the  King  and  people?  Certainly  if  Pitt  could 
continue  to  command  the  homage  of  politicians 
and  the  suffrage  of  the  mob,  the  King  and  Pitt 
might  conduct  public  affairs  excellently  well,  andj 
crush  out  all  faction  arid  rivalry.  Wherefore,  "  The 


King's  pleasure  and  gracious  commands,"  wrote  the 
"  Great  Man "  at  last,  "  shall  be  a  call  to  me.  I 
am  deaf  to  every  other  end."  The  idea  grew  upon 
him.  "  If  ever,"  he  said,  "he  was  again  admitted,  as 
he  had  been,  to  the  royal  presence,  it  should  be  inde- 
pendent of  any  personal  connections  whatsoever." 
Moreover,  Pitt's  independence  had  recently  been 
fortified  by  the  bequest  of  a  large  estate  from  Sir 
William  Pynsent.  He  was  now  a  rich  man. 

Such  sentiments  being  imparted  to  George,  who, 
more  than  any  one  else  in  the  kingdom,  had  long 
desired  to  break  up  faction,  caused  him  to  look  upon 
Pitt  in  a  more  favourable  light.  If  Pitt  persisted, 
this  policy  which  he  from  the  moment  of  coming  to 
the  throne  had  unsuccessfully  endeavoured  to  achieve 
might  be  successful.  The  "Great  Commoner's" 
character  was  too  haughty  and  exiguous  —  his 
manner  too  artificial  —  ever  to  commend  itself 
entirely  to  George,  but  never  had  Pitt  offered  him 
any  personal  slight.  His  conduct  as  a  gentleman  and 
a  courtier  had  been  irreproachable.  Here,  then,  was 
an  instrument  at  hand,  and  George  prepared  to  seize 
it.  Pitt,  while  loudly  proclaiming  the  necessity  of 
strengthening  the  popular  element  in  Parliament, 
imagined  it  to  be  both  possible  and  useful  to  break 
up  absolutely  the  small  bodies  which  had  grown  up 
around  the  great  families.  He  regarded  with  some 
reason  the  selfishness,  the  incapacity,  the  intrigues, 
and  the  jealousies  of  the  great  nobles  as  the  main 
cause  of  the  weakness,  anarchy,  and  corruption  of 
recent  English  politics.1  But  long  before  Pitt  the 

1  Lecky,  vol.  iii.  p.  111. 



King  had,  as  we  have  seen,  reached  the  same 

Grafton,  a  particular  friend  of  the  King's,  resigned, 
and  a  few  weeks  later  Northington,  the  Lord  Chan- 
cellor, precipitated  the  downfall  of  the  Rockingham 
Ministry.  Parliament  had  been  prorogued.  The 
affairs  of  Canada  succeeded  to  those  of  America  in 
occupying  the  attention  of  the  Privy  Council.  By  a 
proclamation  issued  in  1764,  British  law  was  in- 
troduced into  the  new  Colonies,  and  occasioned 
much  discontent  and  confusion.  The  French  in- 
habitants complained  that  their  laws  were  overturned 
and  others  introduced  of  which  they  understood 
nothing,  not  even  the  language  in  which  the 
decision  of  the  judges  was  announced.  Murray, 
the  Governor  of  the  province,  made  several 
ordonnances  in  pursuance  of  the  proclamation,  but 
they  were  considered  injudicious  by  the  Board  of 
Trade.  According  to  custom,  the  papers  relating  to 
these  disputes  were  sent  from  the  Privy  Council  to 
the  Attorney-  and  Solicitor- General,  who  collected 
other  information  and  prepared  a  report  for  the 
consideration  of  the  Cabinet.  This  report  contained 
a  plan  for  the  civil  government  of  Quebec.  The 
chief  feature  of  this  plan  was  "to  leave  to  the 
natives  their  ancient  rights  of  property,  or  civil 
laws,  and  to  temper  the  rigour  of  their  criminal 
code  by  the  more  equitable  and  liberal  system  of 
English  jurisprudence." 

When  the  Rockingham  Cabinet  came  to  con- 
sider this  business  the  Lord  Chancellor,  at  whose 
house  they  met,  declared  his  entire  disapproval  of 
1 66 


the  report.      He  expressed  his  belief  that  no  pro- 
position should  be  sanctioned  by  the  Cabinet  until 
a  complete  code  of  the  laws  of  Canada  should  be 
procured.     This   meant  a   delay  of  at  least  a   full 
year,  and  Ministers  broke  up  the  meeting  in  some 
confusion.     Before  they  could   again   meet,  North- 
ington    intimated    his    intention    of    attending    no 
further.     Nevertheless   the   affairs   of  Canada   were 
again   discussed,   Yorke   proposing  that   the   report 
should   be  sent   to   Quebec   for  the    inspection    of 
[overnor  Carleton  and  the  Colonial  Crown  lawyers, 
dth  instructions  to  return  it  corrected  according  to 
;heir  judgment,  accompanied  by  a  complete  code  of 
ic  ordonnances  of  Canada.      This  settlement   ap- 
ired  fair  and  just.     All  the  Cabinet  were  agreed, 
orthington,    however,    saw    in    this   an    excellent 
opportunity  for  urging  the  King  to  lose  no  further 
[me  in  summoning  Pitt,  who  was  now  only  waiting 
for  his  Majesty  personally  to  command  him.    George 
id,  and  on  the  7th  July,  having  never  been  with- 
out a  fair  appreciation  of  the  "  Great  Commoner's  " 
ranity,  he  indited  the  following  letter  : — 

"  Mr.  Pitt,"  it  began,  "  your  very  dutiful  and 
landsome  conduct  the  last  summer  makes  me 
lesirous  of  having  your  thoughts  how  an  able  and 
lignified  Ministry  may  be  formed.  I  desire,  there- 
Pore,  you  will  come  for  this  salutary  purpose  to 

Pitt's  answer  was  the  usual  combination  of 
bombast,  adulation,  and  affected  humility.  He 
"  sighed  for  the  gift  to  change  his  infirmity  into 
rings  of  expedition,  in  order  that  he  might  lay  his 



poor  but  sincere  offering  of  his  little  service  at  the 
royal  feet."  He  followed  himself  almost  immediately, 
and,  received  by  George  with  cordiality,  was  given 
carte  blanche  to  form  an  administration. 

Pitt,  as  everybody  expected,  at  once  offered  the 
Treasury  to  Temple.  As  nobody  expected,  Temple 
refused  it.  He  came  to  town,  found  he  could  not 
agree  on  a  single  point  with  his  brother-in-law,  and 
returned.  Grafton  accepted  the  post.  In  forming 
his  Ministry  Pitt's  policy,  as  Walpole  put  it,  was 
"to  pick  and  cull  from  all  quarters,  and  cut  all 
parties  as  much  as  possible."  Burke  called  it  "  a 
mosaic  administration."  Townshend,  firm  in  his 
belief  that  America  ought  to  be  taxed,  was  made 
Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer.  Camden,  who  was 
equally  firm  in  the  iniquity  of  compelling  America 
to  share  the  Mother  Country's  burdens,  was  the  new 
Lord  Chancellor.  Conway  and  Barrington  retained 
their  offices. 

A  political  figure  of  interest,  whose  speeches  on 
the  question  of  Wilkes  arid  American  taxation  had 
lately  attracted  ,  attention,  now  appeared  in  office. 
This  was  ffiancfff,  Lord  North,  to  whom  was  given 
the  Paymastership  of  the  Forces.  It  had  been  uni- 
versally expected  that  Pitt  would  have  taken  the 
Treasury  himself.  But  Pitt  had  other  views.  He  felt 
himself  unequal  to  any  hard  labour.  He  wanted  to 
win  battles  as  the  Grand  Monarque  won  them,  by 
sitting  gracefully  on  a  white  charger  and  issuing 
occasional  haughty  directions  to  his  perspiring 
captains.  Another  great  surprise  was  in  store  for 
the  urban  multitude.  The  Gazette  announced  that 
1 68 

&**£r<^  ^^t   **£*^    *<m.££*r*^.y  s#jLj&+^*+ ^  ^M^^T 




William    Pitt   was    "no    more,"   that   the    Earl   of 
Chatham  had  replaced  the  "Great  Commoner"! 

Once  again  an  instant  revulsion  took  place  in  the 
feelings  of  Pitt's  admirers  when  they  heard  that  he 
had  accepted  a  title.  The  City  of  London,  which 
yesterday  had  idolised  Pitt,  now  refused  to  present 
Lord  Chatham  an  address.  A  banquet  in  his  honoui 
was  countermanded.  The  illuminations  to  celebrate 
the  return  of  Pitt  to  power  were  dismantled.  He 
was  denounced  as  a  courtier  and  a  renegade,  and, 
above  all,  the  dupe  of  Lord  Bute.  Everything  was 
attributed  to  Bute.1  The  King  had  no  personal 
will,  no  mental  powers,  no  predilections ;  it  was  all 
Bute !  Bute  had  planned  Pitt's  downfall,  and  the 
"  Great  Commoner  "  had  been  "  caught  in  a  Scotch 
trap."  These  circumstances  were  quite  enough  of 
themselves  to  make  Chatham's  labours  difficult. 
But  others  conspired  to  add  to  his  mortification. 
An  uncommonly  bad  harvest  followed ;  the  price  of 
wheat  rose  to  an  unexampled  height,  bringing  bread 
riots  in  their  train.  The  soldiers  were  called  out, 
and  bloodshed  could  not  be  prevented. 

One  of  the  Ministry's  first  acts  was  to  issue  a 
proclamation  against  "  forestallers,  regraters,  and 
engrossers  of  corn."  But  this  was  insufficient.  The 
total  export  of  wheat  in  their  opinion  ought  to  be 
prohibited ;  only  an  Act  of  Parliament  alone  could 
achieve  this,  and  Parliament  was  not  in  session. 

1  Bute  himself  had  been  perfectly  wretched  over  what  he  con- 
sidered the  chaotic  condition  of  affairs.  He  seems  to  have  appre- 
hended revolution,  and  his  gratitude  to  Pitt  for  saving  his  "young 
and  amiable  "  king  knew  no  bounds. 


Chatham,  however,  loftily  swept  aside  any  Minis- 
terial scruples,  and  an  Order  in  Council  was  issued, 
laying  an  embargo  on  all  wheat  grown  in  the 
kingdom.  "  After  all,"  as  Camden  afterwards  stated, 
"  the  action  of  the  administration  was  only  a  forty 
days'  tyranny."  As  a  matter  of  fact  Chatham  con- 
sulted with  the  King  himself,  and  the  two  went 
carefully  over  the  question.  George  agreed  that 
the  weal  of  the  public  was  in  danger,  and  instant 
action  was  imperatively  demanded.  In  a  letter  to 
Con  way  he  writes :  "  Great  evils  must  require  at 
times  extraordinary  measure  to  remove  them.  The 
present  risings  are  only  an  additional  proof  to  me 
of  the  great  licentiousness  that  has  infused  itself 
into  all  orders  of  men.  If  a  due  obedience  to  law, 
and  the  submitting  to  that,  as  the  only  just  method 
of  having  grievances  removed,  does  not  once  more 
become  the  characteristic  of  this  nation,  we  shall 
soon  be  no  better  than  the  savages  of  America. 
Then  we  shall  be  as  much  despised  by  all  civilised 
nations,  as  we  are  as  yet  revered  for  our  excellent 

And  again  on  the  24th  September  the  King 
wrote :  "  As  there  seems  to  be  so  real  a  distress  from 
the  present  excessive  dearness  of  the  corn,  and  a 
great  probability  that,  if  a  prohibition  is  not  issued  to 
prevent  the  further  exportation  of  it,  the  evil  may 
greatly  increase  before  the  Parliament  can  possibly 
put  a  stop  to  it,  I  am  glad  the  Council  have  un- 
animously thought  it  expedient  that  such  prohibition 
should  be  immediately  ordered.  I  desire  therefore 
the  proclamation  may  be  prepared  for  my  signing 


on  Friday.  I  think  it  would  be  right  you  should 
acquaint  the  Lord  President  with  the  result  of 
this  day's  Council." 

When  Parliament  met,  of  course  a  great  out- 
cry was  made.  It  was  urged  by  Mansfield  that 
prerogative  had  invaded  the  law,  an  act  of  gross 
usurpation  had  been  committed,  the  law  of  the 
land  had  been  broken,  and  that  the  Ministers  richly 
deserved  impeachment ! 

To  illustrate  the  change  that  had  come  over 
Chatham  and  his  friends,  how  their  jealousy  of  the 
Crown  had  mysteriously  evaporated,  one  may  cite 
the  excuse  for  the  Ministerial  conduct  offered  by 
Alderman  Beckford  in  the  House  of  Commons, 
"  that  in  times  of  danger  the  Crown  might  dispense 
with  law."  Whereupon  Grenville  sprang  to  his 
feet  with  a  passionate  denial,  and  a  desire  that  the 
Clerk  of  the  House  should  take  down  the  City 
member's  words.  Beckford  retired  abashed. 

By  the  majority  the  necessity  of  the  embargo 
was  admitted,  and  though  the  debates  were  violent, 
and  the  amendment  rejected,  no  protest  appears 
on  the  journals.  The  Parliament,  in  fact,  sanctioned 
the  proceeding  of  Ministry  by  an  address  to  the  King, 
requesting  him  to  continue  the  wheat  embargo,  and 
extend  it  to  several  other  kinds  of  grain. 

Chatham  had  come  ;  Chatham  was  in  power,  and 
still  the  Ministry  was  unstable.  Disunion  began  to 
appear  on  every  hand.  A  number  of  his  adherents 
resigned,  and  in  the  midst  of  the  confusion  and 
growing  unpopularity  of  the  sixth  Ministry  since  the 
King's  accession,  Chatham,  with  an  intellect  obviously 



clouded,  withdrew  himself  to  Bath.  More  than  ever 
was  he  alienated  from  his  colleagues.  Some  began 
to  suspect  his  mental  sanity ;  of  his  bodily  ill-health 
none  could  entertain  a  doubt.  Nevertheless  to  the 
King,  Chatham's  presence  in  the  Ministry  being 
indispensable,  so  for  the  next  two  years,  although 
Chatham  took  little  or  no  part  in  administrative 
affairs  yet  his  name  and  influence  were  the  cement 
which  made  the  units  of  the  Ministry  to  cohere. 

George  saw  clearly  enough  that  were  he  to  be 
deprived  of  Chatham  the  others  would  fall  away, 
and  in  their  impotence  George  Grenville  might  be 
the  only  alternative.  As  to  receiving  Grenville  back 
again,  he  would  almost  rather,  he  said  himself, 
"  meet  Mr.  Grenville  at  the  end  of  his  sword,  than 
let  him  into  his  closet."  It  was  really  wonderful 
how  little  all  the  intrigues,  cabals,  intimidation,  and 
bullying  George  had  been  the  victim  of  during  the 
six  years  of  his  reign  had  power  to  quell  his  spirit. 
Chatham  urged  that  the  majority  was  weak.  So, 
said  George,  is  public  spirit ;  the  national  resolu- 
tion is  weak.  "  As  for  losing  questions  in  Parlia- 
ment, it  did  not  intimidate  him ;  he  would  stand  his 
ground  and  be  the  last  to  yield,  although  he  stood 
single." l 

The  King  respected  his  Minister's  illness ;  but 
as  the  weeks  wore  away  stories  reached  him  of 
Chatham's  occasional  vivacity.  He  came  to  London 
in  a  litter,  and  from  thence  set  up  at  North  End, 
Hampstead.  The  King  despatched  more  than  one 
letter  breathing  sympathy  and  concern,  and  ex- 

1  Chatham  Correspondence,  vol.  iii.  pp.  227. 


pressions  of  earnest  desire  to  consult  with  him. 
Could  he  manage  to  see  him  for  a  quarter  of  an 
hour?  George  himself  proposed  to  visit  him  in 
his  sick  chamber.  "  We  will  not  talk  of  business," 
added  the  King ;  "I  only  want  to  have  the  world 
know  that  I  attended  Lord  Chatham."  l  Chatham, 
secretly  delighted  at  this  condescension,  yet  pre- 
served an  irresponsive  front.  If  Chatham  would 
not  see  the  King,  would  he  receive  the  Duke  of 
Grafton  ?  "  Your  duty  and  affection  for  my  person, 
your  own  honour,  call  on  you  to  make  an  effort. 
Five  minutes'  conversation  with  you  would  raise 
his  spirits,  for  his  heart  is  good.  Mine,  I  thank 
Heaven,  wants  no  rousing.  My  love  to  my  country, 
as  well  as  what  I  owe  to  my  own  character  and 
my  family,  prompt  me  not  to  yield  to  faction.  .  .  . 
Though  none  of  my  Ministers  stand  by  me,  I  cannot 
truckle." 2  This  appeal  brought  a  characteristic  reply 
from  the  ailing  Minister. 

"  Penetrated  and  overwhelmed  by  your  Majesty's 
letter  and  the  boundless  extent  of  your  royal  good- 
ness, totally  incapable  as  illness  renders  me,  I  obey 
your  Majesty's  commands,  and  beg  to  see  the  Duke 
of  Grafton  to-morrow  morning,  though  hopeless  that 
I  can  add  weight  to  your  Majesty's  gracious  wishes. 
Illness  and  affliction  deprive  me  of  the  power  of 
adding  more,  than  to  implore  your  Majesty  to  look 
with  indulgence  on  this  imperfect  tribute  of  duty 
and  devotion." 

Grafton  went  to  see  Chatham  on  the  1st  June,  and 

1  Chatham  Correspondence,  vol.  iii.  p.  226. 

2  Ibid.,  p.  261. 



found  him  suffering  from  nervous  prostration.  His 
ailment  bore  a  very  strong  likeness  to  hysterics ;  at 
intervals  his  frame  shook,  and  he  burst  into  tears  on 
the  smallest  provocation.  But  he  seems  to  have 
collected  himself  sufficiently,  and  told  Grafton  that 
he  would  remain  in  office  if  nothing  were  expected 
of  him.  From  Hampstead,  Grafton  rode  away 
virtually  first  Minister  of  the  Crown. 

On  the  following  day  the  King  considerately 
sent  this  message  to  Chatham :  "  My  sole  purpose 
in  writing  is  the  desire  of  knowing  whether  the 
excitement  and  hurry  of  the  last  week  has  not  affected 
your  health.  I  should  have  sent  yesterday  had  I 
not  thought  a  day  of  rest  necessary  previous  to  your 
being  able  to  give  an  answer.  If  you  have  not 
suffered,  which  I  flatter  myself,  I  think  with  reason 
I  may  congratulate  you  on  its  being  a  good  proof 
you  are  gaining  ground." 

A  sorry  task  had  Grafton.  Shelburne  and 
Charles  Townshend  were  plotting  against  him.  The 
Grenville,  Bedford,  and  Rockingham  factions  were 
striving  their  utmost  to  break  up  the  Ministry. 
Majorities  in  the  House  of  Commons  became  very 
precarious.  Townshend,  a  brilliant  speaker  and  a 
born  leader  of  men,  openly  evinced  his  aspirations  to 
the  Premiership.  During  the  Army  debate  at  the 
beginning  of  the  year,  on  the  reassembling  of  Parlia- 
ment, it  was  seen  that  the  American  question  was 
by  no  means  disposed  of.  While  Grenville  moved 
that  America  like  Ireland  should  support  her  own 
army,  Townshend,  much  to  the  surprise  of  his  col- 
leagues, declared  himself  a  firm  believer  in  the 


principle  of  the  Stamp  Act.  It  was  unjust  that 
taxes  for  the  support  of  the  Army  and  Navy  should 
not  be  levied  on  the  Americans.  He  knew  of  a 
mode,  he  said,  by  which  a  revenue  might  be  drawn 
from  the  Americans,  without  giving  them  offence. 
This  was  good  news  to  Grenville,  who  instantly 
sprang  up  in  his  place,  and  insisted  on  Townshend's 
pledging  himself  to  fulfil  his  project. 

Townshend,  nothing  loath,  and  heedless  of  the 
looks  of  dismay  on  the  part  of  his  fellow- Ministers, 
consented.  The  country  gentlemen  and  the  yeo- 
manry of  England  were  almost  unanimously  at  his 
back.  They  had  just  defeated  the  passage  of  the 
Land  Tax  (by  which  it  was  proposed  to  raise  a  large 
revenue),  on  the  ground  that  it  was  impossible  for 
Britain  to  bear  alone  the  entire  burden  of  maintain- 
ing the  Empire.  It  is  probable  that  had  Chatham 
known  of  the  bold  conduct  of  his  Chancellor  of  the 
Exchequer  he  would  have  disapproved.  But  his 
intimate  friend,  Shelburne,  strongly  endorsed  the 
policy  of  America  supporting  her  own  army.  He 
believed,  as  the  King  believed,  that  part  of  the 
sum  might  be  raised  by  strict  enforcement  of  the 
quit-rents  of  the  Crown  and  by  benefiting  from 
the  Crown  grants  of  land.  Since  his  outburst 
on  the  Stamp  Act  even  Chatham  had  begun  to 
look  upon  the  conduct  of  America  as  unamiable. 
He  had  written  to  Shelburne,  "America  affords  a 
gloomy  prospect.  The  spirit  of  infatuation  has 
taken  possession  of  New  York."  But  the  spirit 
of  faction  was  to  make  him  gloss  over  any  insub- 
ordination and  rebellion  in  that  quarter. 



On  the  13th  May  Townshend  introduced  his 
measure  for  American  taxation.  The  ingratitude 
of  America  and  a  recrudescence  of  the  agitation 
there  on  account  of  the  Declaratory  Act  made 
many  regret  still  more  the  repeal  of  the  Stamp  Act. 
The  real  disposition  of  the  Americans  was  soon 
publicly  exhibited.  In  the  last  session  an  alteration 
was  made  in  the  American  Mutiny  Act,  enjoining  the 
Colonists  to  supply  the  soldiers  with  salt,  vinegar, 
and  beer  or  cyder.  The  first  attempt  to  obtain  this 
moderate  indulgence  was  made  in  New  York;  the 
Governor  applied  to  the  Assembly  to  provide  quarters 
for  the  troops  who  were  expected,  and  specified  the 
additional  articles  required.  The  Assembly  was  so 
reluctant  in  taking  this  message  into  consideration, 
that  an  address  in  answer  was  not  voted  till  the 
luckless  soldiers  arrived.  No  notice  was  taken  of 
the  demand  to  supply  the  military  with  the  neces- 
saries required  by  the  Act  of  Parliament.  After 
several  messages  and  replies  had  been  exchanged, 
the  contumacious  Assembly  finally  resolved  not  to 
comply  with  the  Amended  Mutiny  Act.  They 
affected  to  consider  the  principle  as  not  differing 
from  the  Stamp  Act ;  it  imposed  a  new  burden, 
and  at  length,  on  their  own  authority,  repealed  a 
regulation  made  by  the  Imperial  Parliament. 

Elsewhere  in  the  Colonies  the  Act  met  with  a  like 
fate.  The  zeal  of  the  military,  in  support  of  Govern- 
ment, angered  the  local  Assemblies.  In  one  county 
soldiers  were  fired  on  by  the  mob,  and  compelled,  in 
self-defence,  to  wound  some  of  their  assailants.  In 
New  York  a  tree  of  liberty  was  erected  by  the  mal- 


contents  as  a  token  of  triumph  on  the  repeal  of  the 
Stamp  Act.  The  soldiers  advanced  to  cut  it  down ; 
the  mob  resisted,  and  blood  would  have  been  shed 
but  for  the  tact  and  restraint  of  the  commanding 
officer  and  the  magistrates. 

"  Repeal,"  observed  Burke  afterwards,  "  began  to 
be  in  as  bad  odour  in  the  House  of  Commons  as  the 
Stamp  Act  had  been  the  session  before."  By  Towns- 
hend's  Bill  certain  duties  on  glass,  paper,  paste- 
board, white  lead,  painters'  colours,  and  tea  were  to 
be  imposed  on  these  articles  imported  into  the 
Colonies.  It  was  a  reasonable  tax.  It  had  the 
approval  of  such  a  difficult  personage  as  Benjamin 
Franklin.  In  his  evidence  before  the  House  of 
Commons  Franklin  said  plainly,  "  You  may  have, 
therefore,  a  natural  and  equitable  right  to  some  toll 
or  duty  on  merchandise  carried  through  that  part 
of  your  dominions  towards  defraying  the  expense 
you  are  at  in  ships  to  maintain  the  safety  of  that 
carriage."  In  other  words,  some  leading  Americans 
were  not  averse  from  contributing  to  the  support 
of  the  Imperial  navy. 

It  was  expected  to  raise  some  £40,000,  the  basis 
of  a  Crown  Civil  List,  out  of  which  salaries  were  to 
be  paid  to  the  governors  and  judges  in  America. 
Townshend's  very  moderate  Bill  passed  with  little 
opposition  through  both  Houses.  But  Franklin  had 
utterly  misconceived  the  unreasonable  temper  of  his 
own  people.1  Many  of  their  demagogues  and  news- 

1  "  England  was  quite  right  in  forming  a  very  low  estimate  of 
the  character  and  motives  of  a  large  proportion  of  those  ambitious 
lawyers,  newspaper  writers,  preachers,  and  pamphleteers,  who,  in 



papers  fairly  lost  themselves  in  terms  of  abuse  and 
obliquy.  The  position  of  the  royal  governors  be- 
came intolerable.  Without  the  presence  of  British 
troops  the  Commissioners  of  the  Revenue  were  im- 
potent to  enforce  the  Revenue  Acts.  No  jury  would 
convict  rioters  or  offenders  against  the  excise  or 
revenue,  or  even  against  the  governor's  person.  The 
first  condition  of  maintaining  authority  in  Massa- 
chusetts, as  Governor  Bernard  wrote,  was  to  quarter 
in  Boston  a  force  of  British  troops.  But  Townshend 
was  not  to  live  to  see  the  results  of  his  measure. 
While  the  mind  of  his  leader  was  still  obscured, 
and  his  own  dreams  of  making  himself  Chatham's 
successor  were  most  roseate,  the  Chancellor  of  the 
Exchequer  died  at  the  early  age  of  forty-two.  On 
receiving  the  news  the  King  despatched  a  messenger 
to  Lord  North,  who,  with  Graft on's  approval,  filled 
the  suddenly  vacated  post.  There  were  further 
changes  later.  Northington  and  Conway  resigned, 
and  the  Duke  of  Bedford's  followers,  including 
Sandwich,  joined  the  Ministry. 

The  entry  of  North  marks  a  new  era  in  the  re- 
lations of  the  Crown  and  its  advisers.  North,  whom 
we  have  already  seen  as  a  youth  at  Leicester  House, 
was  the  son  of  the  first  Earl  of  Guildford,  and  had 
first  entered  the  House  of  Commons  in  1754.  Al- 
though he  had  been  one  of  the  Lords  of  the  Treasury 
under  Pitt  in  1759,  he  was  attached  to  none  of  the 

New  England  at  least,  were  labouring  with  untiring  assiduity 
to  win  popular  applause  by  sowing  dissension  between  England 
and  her  Colonies. — England  in  the  Eighteenth  Century,  vol.  iii. 
p.  354. 


(From  the  Portrait  by  Dance  in  the  Bodleian  Library) 


Whig  factions.  He  was  industrious,  a  witty  speaker, 
tactful,  and  with  a  temperament  the  most  amiable 
in  the  world.  In  every  respect  he  was  acceptable 
to  the  King.  George  and  his  sterling  qualities  had 
no  greater  admirer  than  North,  who  believed  in 
authority  and  the  peace  of  the  kingdom,  in  equity 
of  taxation,  in  sobriety  of  public  speech  and  con- 
duct. To  such  a  man  it  fell  to  lead  the  House  of 
Commons.  Chatham  still  retained  his  place,  but 
so  incapable  was  he  of  transacting  any  business, 
that  it  was  even  found  necessary  for  a  time  to 
put  the  Privy  Seal  in  commission. 

North  had  not  long  been  in  office  under  Grafton 
when,  on  the  eve  of  a  general  election,  John  Wilkes 
reappeared  to  set  the  King,  Parliament,  and  kingdom 
by  the  ears.  Since  his  duel  with  Martin  he  had 
retired  to  Paris,  and  toured  the  Continent  with  an 
Italian  courtesan.  Ignominous  battling  with  poverty 
and  innumerable  intrigues  to  raise  money  decided 
Wilkes  to  return  to  London.  Forwarding  a 
petition  for  pardon  to  the  King,  he  announced 
himself  as  candidate  for  the  representation  of  the 
City  of  London.  Beaten  here,  though  polling 
more  than  twelve  hundred  votes,  he  immediately, 
with  the  support  of  Portland,  Temple,  and  John 
Home,  stood  for  Middlesex.  The  result  on  28th 
March  was  that  Wilkes  headed  the  poll.  The 
audacity  of  the  exploit  staggered  Grafton  and  his 
colleagues.  Again  they  saw  Wilkes  a  popular  hero, 
and  in  the  storm  of  popular  excitement,  now  daily 
rising,  they  were  ready  to  take  Wilkes  to  their 
bosom.  But  they  reckoned  without  their  sovereign ; 



nothing  could  induce  George  to  bend  before  the 
threats  of  the  mob.  Wilkes  was  a  disreputable 
outlaw,  and  if  his  excesses  were  to  go  unpunished, 
the  best  interests  of  the  kingdom  would  suffer. 
However  his  Ministers  might  vacillate,  George  at 
least  was  steadfast.  The  fury  and  licentiousness  of 
a  crowd  did  not  intimidate  him.  "Wilkes  and 
Liberty"  was  everywhere  the  cry.  The  windows 
of  Lord  Bute's  house  and  of  several  other  noble- 
men were  broken,  and  the  cabalistic  No.  45  stared 
at  pedestrians  from  walls,  pavements,  and  even  the 
panels  of  carriages. 

George  was  warned  that  he  was  exposed  to 
personal  danger.  He  rebuked  his  monitor  as  he 
had  once  rebuked  Bute.  He  only  wished,  he  said, 
the  rioters  would  make  the  attempt ;  he  would 
then  have  an  opportunity  of  dispersing  them  at 
the  head  of  his  Guards. 

We  need  not  here  go  into  the  story  of  Wilkes's 
divagations.  A  few  weeks  after  his  election  the 
demagogue  surrendered  himself  to  the  Marshal  of 
the  King's  Bench.  Subsequently  Mansfield,  on  a 
technical  point  of  law,  pronounced  his  outlawry  to 
be  illegal.  But  while  the  expelled  member  in  the 
King's  Bench  Prison  awaited  sentence  for  seditious 
libel  and  blasphemy,  London  was  virtually  in  the 
hands  of  the  mob,  which  committed  all  sorts  of 
violence.  At  this  time  we  find  George  writing  to 
the  Secretary  of  State,  Lord  Weymouth,  that  "If 
due  firmness  is  shown  with  regard  to  this  audacious 
criminal,  this  affair  will  prove  a  fortunate  one,  by  I 
restoring  a  due  obedience  to  the  laws.  But  if  this  is 
1 80 


not  the  case,  I  fear  anarchy  will  continue  till  what 
every  temperate  man  must  dread,  I  mean  an  effusion 
of  blood,  has  vanquished." 

Of  a  kindly,  generous  disposition  as  George  unde- 
niably was,  he  did  not  believe  in  that  false  humanity, 
which  is  but  another  name  for  weakness.  Indeed,  if 
the  Wilkes  mob  had  had  their  way,  others  would 
have  been  encouraged  to  storm  and  pillage.  "  We 
have,"  wrote  Walpole,  "  independent  mobs  that  have 
nothing  to  do  with  Wilkes,  and  who  only  take 
advantage  of  so  favourable  a  season.  The  dearness 
of  provisions  incites — the  hope  of  increase  of  wages 
allures — and  drink  puts  them  in  motion."  There  were 
uprisings  of  the  coal-heavers,  the  sawyers,  and  last, 
but  not  least,  the  sailors,  the  latter  of  whom,  after 
many  outrages,  marched  to  Richmond  Lodge,  where 
George  then  was,  with  their  petition.  "  The  sailors," 
wrote  the  King  to  Weymouth,  "  have  been  here. 
The  servants,  according  to  my  orders,  acquainted 
them  that  I  was  out,  at  which  they  expressed  much 
concern.  On  being  asked  their  business,  they  said  it 
was  for  an  increase  of  wages.  They  were  told  that  I 
had  no  power  to  act  in  this  affair,  which  they  readily 
owned  ;  said  they  were  fools  for  walking  so  far,  and 
that  they  would  go  back  to  London ;  but  begged 
the  petition  might  be  given  me  when  I  came  home, 
as  it  was  a  proof  that,  though  they  were  wrongly 
advised  in  addressing  themselves  to  me,  they  looked 
upon  me  as  having  the  welfare  of  the  British  sailors 
at  heart." 

It  was  impossible  that  such  scenes  could   long 
continue    without    bloodshed.      A    vast    multitude 




assembled  in  St.  George's  Fields  shouting  "  Wilkes 
and  Liberty,"  and  threatening  to  storm  the  King's 
Bench  Prison.  The  Riot  Act  was  read,  and  six 
persons  were  killed  and  fifteen  wounded.  Where- 
upon the  infuriated  mob  threatened  to  attack  the 
House  of  Commons.  "  Bloodshed,"  wrote  George, 
"  is  not  what  I  delight  in,  but  it  seems  to  me  the 
only  way  of  restoring  a  due  obedience  to  the  laws. 
I  have  just  seen  the  paper,  that  was  distributed 
to-day,  recommending  the  driving  the  Commons 
out  of  their  House,  which  they,  for  their  own  sakes, 
are  bound  to  take  notice  of.  I  shall  with  pleasure 
sign  any  proclamation  that  can  tend  to  restore  order 
to  this  country,  formerly  looked  upon  as  the  seat  of 
Liberty,  which  has  now  degenerated  into  licentious- 
ness." The  monarch's  decisive  policy  quickly  worked 
wonders ;  a  display  of  firmness  had  its  consequences. 
Wilkes  found  himself  sentenced  to  imprisonment  for 
twenty-two  months,  fined  a  thousand  pounds,  and 
bound  over  to  keep  peace  for  seven  years  after  his 

Had  the  King's  policy  been  adopted  from  the 
beginning  Wilkes  would  have  been  arrested  on  his 
arrival  in  the  kingdom,  and  the  rioting  incident 
upon  the  Middlesex  election  and  the  hero's  incar- 
ceration would  never  have  occurred.  When,  some 
months  later,  Wilkes  was  expelled  from  the  House 
of  Commons,  the  proceeding  only  evoked  further 
testimony  on  the  part  of  his  admirers.  He  was 
again  re-elected,  and  the  scenes  of  violence  were 
renewed.  Nevertheless  we  still  see  George  as  calm  ! 
as  ever  in  the  glimpses  we  have  given  us  from 


time  to  time  by  his  courtiers.  "A  lord  who  was 
with  him,"  says  Lord  Holland,  "told  me  that  after 
the  great  riot  at  St.  James's,  or  rather  in  the 
midst  of  it,  when  he  came  out  to  the  levee,  one 
could  not  find  out,  either  in  his  countenance  or 
his  conversation,  that  everything  was  not  as  quiet 
as  usual."  Would  that  this  mental  tranquillity  could 
ever  have  endured ! 

It  seems  almost  incredible  that  Bute's  name 
should  still  be  connected  in  the  minds  of  the  popu- 
lace with  the  King ;  that  his  name,  like  the  demon 
of  some  nursery  legend,  was  still  shouted  in  execra- 
tion. Not  only  had  the  King  not  beheld  his  former 
Minister  for  three  years,  but  during  the  Wilkes's 
agitation  Bute  was  sorely  afflicted  in  body  and  mind, 
and  contemplating  permanent  exile  from  his  country. 
"  I  will  apprise  you,"  he  writes  to  Home,  the  author 
of  "  Douglas,"  "  how  to  direct  to  me,  as  I  shall 
leave  my  name  behind  me  for  these  vipers  to  spread 
their  venom  on.  For,  believe  me,  of  whatever  ad- 
ant  age  to  my  health  this  odious  journey  may  be, 
know  too  well  the  turn  of  Faction  to  suppose 
y  absence  is  to  diminish  the  violence  I  have 
for  so  many  years  experienced ;  and  perhaps  the 
more,  that  I  may  think  I  merit  a  distinguished 
treatment  of  a  very  opposite  nature  from  a  people 
I  have  served  at  the  risk  of  my  head.  I  have 
tried  philosophy  in  vain,  my  dear  Home ;  I  cannot 
acquire  callosity ;  and  were  it  not  for  some- 
thing still  nearer  to  me,  still  more  deeply  interest- 
ing, I  would  prefer  common  necessaries  in  Bute, 
France,  Italy,  nay,  Holland,  to  fifty  thousand 



pounds  a  year  within   the  atmosphere  of  this  vile 

Again  he  writes  to  Home  from  Venice : 
"Near  three  months  of  this  envenomed  sirocco 
has  lain  heavy  on  me,  and  I  am  grown  such  a 
stripling,  or  rather  a  withered  old  man,  that  I 
now  appear  thin  in  white  clothes  that  1  looked 
herculean  in  when  I  was  twenty.  I  hope  I  may 
get  better,  if  permitted  to  enjoy  that  peace,  that 
liberty,  which  is  the  birthright  of  the  meanest 
Briton,  but  which  has  been  long  denied  me."  2 

If  it  was  strange  for  the  Bute  legend  to  be 
current  amongst  the  ignorant  masses,  how  much 
stranger  still  was  it  that  after  all  these  years  and 
events  many  of  the  Whig  nobles  still  had  faith  in 
the  same  odd  phantasy  ? 

Overseas  many  things  were  happening  to  occa- 
sion the  King  the  deepest  concern.  The  news  from 
America  was  depressing.  Lord  Hillsborough,  the 
Colonial  Secretary  of  State,  brought  him  a  long  report 
from  Bernard,  the  Governor  of  Massachusetts  Bay, 
exhibiting  the  contumacy  of  the  Assembly  of  that 
Province.  "  As  one  reads  in  this  period  of  English 
history,"  remarks  Mr.  Fisher,  "how  weak,  divided, 
and  headless  every  Ministry  was,  how  bankrupt 
and  disturbed  business  had  become,  how  violent 
the  excitement  and  noting  over  Wilkes,  how  in 
capable  the  Government  was  to  keep  ordinary  civil 
order  even  in  London,  one  cannot  help  smiling  to 
think  of  the  opportunities  our  ancestors  had  in 

1  Home's  Works,  vol.  i.  pp.  148-9. 

2  Ibid.,  p.  150. 


this  confusion.  There  has  been  no  period  since 
then  when  we  could  have  broken  away  so  easily. 
Luck  was  an  important  factor  in  the  Revolution, 
and  attended  us  from  the  beginning  to  the  end." 
George  could  not  perceive,  as  no  true  constitu- 
tionalist could  perceive  then  or  now,  what  difference 
there  lay  between  insubordination  or  rebellion  in 
his  provinces  overseas,  or  his  counties  in  Britain. 
If  they  acknowledged,  as  they  had  acknowledged 
repeatedly  even  in  the  height  and  ardour  of  their 
protests,  the  authority  of  the  King,  why  should 
not  the  better  interests  of  the  American  people 
be  striven  for  against  the  demagogues  and  rioters 
with  as  much  force  and  decision  as  they  were  being 
striven  for  at  home  ? 

A  sloop  belonging  to  John  Hancock,  one  of  the 
principal  merchants,  arrived  in  Boston  harbour  laden 
with  wine.  A  tide-waiter  was  put  on  board  to  pre- 
vent the  cargo  from  being  landed  until  entered 
at  the  custom-house  and  a  permit  obtained.  The 
master  of  the  vessel  having  in  vain  tampered  with 
the  officer,  forcibly  locked  him  up  in  the  cabin, 
landed  the  wine,  and  shipped  oil  from  the  shore. 
Information  of  this  violence  being  given  at  the 
custom-house,  the  collector  seized  the  sloop,  and 
placed  it  under  protection  of  the  Romney  ship  of  war, 
then  in  harbour.  For  this  the  mob  on  shore  then 
assailed  the  collector  and  comptroller  of  the  customs, 
beat  and  pelted  them  with  stones ;  threatened  the 
Commissioners,  whom  they  obliged  to  seek  refuge 
on  board  the  Romney ;  and,  seizing  the  collector's 
boat,  carried  it  in  triumph,  and  burned  it  before 



Hancock's  door.  The  Commissioners  applied  for 
protection  to  the  Governor,  who  referred  them  to 
the  Legislature.  That  body  would  give  neither 
advice  nor  assistance,  and  the  Commissioners,  find- 
ing themselves  threatened,  were  driven  to  seek  refuge 
in  a  fortress  called  Castle  William,  situate  on  an 
island  at  the  mouth  of  the  harbour. 

A  town  meeting  was  called  forthwith.  But  the 
inhabitants  of  Boston,  espousing  Hancock's  interest, 
remonstrated  with  Governor  Bernard  upon  the 
seizure  of  the  sloop,  and  requested  him  to  order 
the  Romney  to  quit  the  harbour.  The  Legislature 
eyeing  these  proceedings  with  indifference  took  no 
measures  to  assist  the  Governor  or  protect  the  King's 

As  a  result  of  all  this  the  law-abiding  inhabit- 
ants were  filled  with  consternation  and  alarm.  The 
Governor  dissolved  the  Assembly,  and  refused  to 
convene  a  new  one  without  instructions  from  home. 

There  was  only  one  way  now  for  the  Imperial 
Government  to  act,  and  that  was  to  send  troops  in 
aid  of  the  helpless  civil  powers  in  Boston. 

1 86 


OCCUPIED  as  George  was  in  the  Council  Chamber 
and  the  royal  closet  with  public  affairs,  his  private 
life,  whether  at  Buckingham  House,  Richmond 
Lodge,  Kew,  or  Windsor,  was  marked  by  many 
episodes,  some  of  them  joyous,  a  few  of  deep 
melancholy.  Almost  alone  of  his  family,  Charlotte 
never  gave  him  a  moment's  anxiety.  His  married 
life  on  the  whole  was  of  unusual  felicity.  The 
birth  of  an  heir  to  the  throne  went  far  to  atone 
for  the  Queen's  social  shortcomings,  for  it  cannot 
be  gainsaid  that  to  London  society  Charlotte  was 
a  disappointment.  The  highest  expectations  had 
been  current  at  Court  of  seeing  the  new  reign  lit 
by  splendour  and  gaiety.  The  young  and  frivolous 
desired  St.  James's  to  emulate  the  vivacity  and 
extravagance  of  Versailles.  Dissoluteness  was  still 
in  fashion ;  neither  Lord  Holland  nor  Lord  Chester- 
field thought  it  unbecoming  in  a  father  to  inculcate 
immorality  or  condone  gaming  and  inebriety  in  their 

Both  too  deeply  impressed  with  the  evils  which 
ere  eating  out  the  heart  of  the  nation,  and  the  one 
too  greatly  immersed  in  State  business  to  leave  time 
for  frivolity,  George   and    Charlotte   had   on   other 


grounds  no  desire  to  emulate  Versailles.  The  young 
King's  principles  as  well  as  tastes  were  on  the  side 
of  dignified  quiet  and  decency.  The  young  Queen, 
although  partaking  of  the  public  diversions,  and 
obviously  gratified  at  the  pleasure  which  her  presence 
afforded,  delighted  more  in  the  tranquil  society  of 
her  own  friends.  The  "  blended  dignity  and  sweet- 
ness" with  which  she  went  through  the  formal 
ceremonies  of  the  Court  days,  her  grace  of  manner 
and  gentleness  of  conversation,  made,  as  they  truly 
deserved  to  make,  a  favourable  impression. 

Between  their  public  and  private  life  George 
and  his  Queen  drew  a  line.  The  testimony  of  many 
intimates  supplies  a  touching  picture  of  the  sim- 
plicity of  the  royal  habits  and  occupations.  Scarcely 
wedded,  George  was  anxious  for  his  Queen  to 
become  proficient  in  the  English  tongue.  None, 
at  first  he  playfully  declared,  should  teach  his 
Charlotte  but  himself;  yet  afterwards  he  called 
in  a  worthy  gentleman  and  scholar,  Dr.  Majendie, 
to  assist  the  Queen  in  her  studies.  While  he  was 
called  away  daily  to  read  and  sign  despatches  and 
to  confer  with  Ministers,  Charlotte  read  aloud 
passages  from  Shakespeare,  Milton,  and  Addison. 
Such  was  the  royal  pupil's  application,  that  she  was 
soon  able  to  speak  fluently  and  write  English  not 
only  correctly,  but  with  elegance.  Charlotte  was 
that  rare  creature,  a  really  domestic  woman.  She 
was  fond  of  needlework,  and  took  a  deep  interest 
in  horticulture.  She  played  on  the  harpsichord,  and 
sang  agreeably. 

We  are  told  by  Miss  Burney  that  the  Queen  had 


no  love  for  jewels,  nor  had  dress  any  fascination  for 
her.  She  admitted  that  when  first  she  became  a 
queen  to  adorn  herself  had  not  been  unpleasing  to 
her,  but  then  she  was  only  seventeen,  and  it  was  her 
eyes  and  not  her  reason  that  was  dazzled.  "  She 
told  me  with  the  sweetest  grace  imaginable,"  wrote 
Miss  Burney,  "  how  well  she  had  liked  at  first  her 
jewels  and  ornaments  as  Queen ;  *  but  how  soon ' 
she  cried, '  was  that  over  !  Believe  me,  Miss  Burney, 
it  is  a  pleasure  of  a  week — a  fortnight  at  most — and 
to  return  no  more.  I  thought  at  first  I  should 
always  choose  to  wear  them ;  but  from  the  fatigue 
and  trouble  of  putting  them  on,  and  the  care  they 
required,  and  the  fear  of  losing  them,  believe  me,  in 
a  fortnight's  time  I  longed  again  for  my  own  earlier 
dress,  and  wished  never  to  see  them  more  ! '  "  l 

George  was  the  typical  English  gentleman  of  his 
time.  Not,  let  us  hasten  to  add,  the  finicking,  frivo- 
lous, heartless,  three-bottle  townman  of  quality,  but 
the  pleasant,  God-fearing,  self-respecting,  amiable 
country  squire.  He  had  a  great  fund  of  humour. 
If  he  took  business  seriously,  it  is  because  the  busi- 
ness of  the  times  demanded  seriousness.  He  was 
fond  of  reading,  and  especially  recitation.  Music 

f.ighted  him.     He  flung  himself  ardently  into  out- 
3r  sports,  especially  riding,  cricket,  and  baseball.2 
hile  delighting  in  a  game  of  cards,  George  was  too 
1   Madame  D'Arblay,  Diary  and  Letters,  vol.  i.  pp.  202-3. 
2  It  is,  by  the  way,  a  whimsical  fact  that  to  the  royal  predi- 
;ion  for  the  game  of  "  rounders  "  that  America  owes  her  national 
game.     It  was  brought  over  by  a  royal  governor,  who  had  seen 
the  Prince  of  Wales  darting,  flushed  and  eager,  round  the  " diamond" 
at  Cliveden. 



much  a  witness  of  the  criminal  folly  of  gambling 
to  indulge  it.  For  several  reigns  it  had  been  the 
custom  to  play  hazard  at  Court  on  Twelfth  Night. 
Large  sums  were  staked  by  or  in  the  presence  of 
the  sovereign,  and  openly  changed  hands.  Dice  had 
been  originally  used,  but  they  were  replaced  by  cards 
in  the  last  reign.  In  1765  the  King  issued  an  order 
prohibiting  gaming  in  the  royal  palace  under  any 
circumstances  whatsoever. 

As  the  public  demands  on  his  time  increased,  that 
which  was  left  for  leisure  was  welcome  indeed  to 
both.  Dinner  was  a  simple  affair.  George's  appe- 
tite was  good.  There  were  plenty  of  nourishing 
viands,  but  no  French  fal-lals.  At  the  beginning 
of  his  reign  indeed,  at  St.  James's,  he  not  only 
had  a  French  cook,  but  even  intimated  that  his 
palate  was  capable  of  discerning  a  glass  of  good 
port.  The  King's  extreme  temperance  dates  from  a 
conversation  three  or  four  years  later  with  the  Duke 
of  Cumberland,  whose  unwieldly  corpulence  dis- 
tressed both  himself  and  his  friends.  "  Unless  your 
Majesty  take  care,"  ran  Cumberland's  warning, 
"  you  will  be  as  fat  as  I ;  I  would  to  God  I  had  re- 
nounced high  living  in  my  youth."  George  stared 
at  his  uncle,  but  the  hint  was  not  lost  upon  him ; 
from  that  day  he  commenced  a  system  of  restraint 
upon  his  palate.  We  are  even  told  lest  family  con- 
viviality should  lead  him  beyond  his  strict  rules  of 
temperance,  he  long  condemned  himself  to  eat  alone, 
of  the  plainest  food  and  in  the  smallest  quantities. 
He  also  increased  his  indulgence  in  exercise.  Years 
afterwards  somebody  commended  him  for  his  heroic 


regimen.  "No,  no,"  he  said,  "it  is  no  virtue ;  I 
only  prefer  eating  plain  and  little  to  growing  diseased 
and  infirm  !  "  His  daily  hours  for  rising  was  between 
six  and  seven.  After  dressing  he  retired  to  his 
devotions  in  a  private  apartment,  where  he  passed  an 
hour  before  breakfast. 

When  the  King  became  a  family  man,  no  sooner 
was  breakfast  over  than  the  children  were  brought 
to  him  for  half-an-hour's  diversion,  in  which  some 
instruction  was  mingled.  It  is  melancholy  to  reflect 
how  ill  the  royal  couple  were  to  be  repaid  for  the 
care  and  loving  attention  they  lavished  upon  their 
children.  George  took  the  greatest  pains  in  their 
education,  saying  that  he  believed  in  bending  the 
twig  whilst  young ;  that  "it  is  chiefly  owing  to 
the  parents,  if  the  children  are  devoid  of  proper 

George  not  only  took  pleasure  in  his  own  children, 
but  made  himself,  before  he  had  been  long  on  the 
throne,  the  special  lover  and  patron  of  school-boys. 
Few  things  gave  him  greater  pleasure  than  a  visit  to 
Eton  school.  Sometimes  a  tear  stood  in  his  eye  as 
he  recalled  his  childhood  at  Eton.  He  loved  to  pat 
the  most  diligent  pupils  on  the  head,  and  tell  them  to 
grow  up  good  citizens.  The  lads  of  Eton  repaid  his 
partiality  long  after  George  was  dead  and  his  grave 
heaped  with  malice  and  disparagement.  The  King's 
birthday  was,  and  is,  kept  religiously  at  Eton.  His 
memory  is  turned  to  there  at  least  with  a  smile  and 
perchance  a  sigh. 

Nor  was  this  love  confined  to  youngsters  of  the 
upper  classes  alone.  He  patronised  every  systematic 



effort  to  feed,  clothe,  and  educate  the  children  of  the 
poor,  and  this  at  a  time  when  their  education  was  by 
no  means  encouraged  by  the  clergy  and  politicians 
of  the  kingdom.  "  I  hope,"  said  George,  "  to  see  the 
day  when  every  poor  child  in  my  dominions  will  be 
able  to  read  his  Bible."  An  Edinburgh  reviewer 
could  afterwards  write,  "  Thousands  of  ragged  children 
will  pray  for  him  and  remember  him  long  after  his 
Majesty  is  forgotten  by  every  lord  of  the  chamber 
and  by  every  clerk  of  the  closet." 

If  at  Windsor,  after  this  domestic  interlude 
George  commonly  saddled  his  waiting  horse,  and,  no 
matter  what  the  weather,  rode  the  entire  distance 
between  Windsor  and  Buckingham  House.  Horses 
he  knew  and  loved.  He  spent  no  little  time  in 
the  royal  stables.  "  Do  you  see  that  horse  ? "  he 
once  remarked  to  Lord  Winchelsea ;  "  I  have  had 
him  twenty  years,  and  he  is  good  now.  Do  you 
know  the  secret  ?  I  will  tell  it  you.  I  know  his 
worth,  and  I  treat  him  accordingly."  George  was 
an  excellent  rider,  and  by  all  accounts  made  a  hand- 
some figure  on  horseback. 

After  his  long  ride  to  town  he  partook  of  a  little 
refreshment,  a   cup   of  tea   and   bread  and   butter, 
which  he  took  standing,  glanced  over  his  letters  and 
papers,  and  perhaps  chatted  with  some  of  his  secre- 
taries.    He  then  entered  a  sedan  chair  and  was  borne 
to  St.  James's  Palace,  there  to  endure  the  lengthy 
tedium  of  a  levee.      He  never  spared  himself,  but  I 
made  it  a  rule  to  converse  with  some  and  to  ex-  I 
change  words  of  recognition  with  all,  no  matter  how  | 
numerous  the  attendance.     The  levee  being  finally  J 


over,  the  King  repaired  to  the  Privy  Council  or  gave 
an  audience  to  his  Ministers  in  the  royal  closet.  It 
was  five  and  often  six  o'clock  before  he  was  able  to 
enter  his  coach  and  return  to  a  frugal  supper  at 
Windsor.  "  It  may  be  remarked,"  afterwards  wrote 
Sir  Herbert  Taylor,  "that  during  many  years  his 
Majesty  had  not  any  one  to  assist  him  in  his  episto- 
lary communications ;  nay,  not  even  in  what  may 
be  called  the  mechanical  parts  of  it ;  that  in  fact  he 
had  not  recourse  to  the  aid  of  a  private  secretary 
until  blindness  rendered  it  indispensable."  George 
as  even  in  the  habit  of  taking  copies  of  his  own 
etters  whenever  they  appeared  to  him  to  be  of  im- 

At  Windsor  after  dinner  George  went  out  on 
the  terrace,  accompanied  generally  by  one  or  two 
of  the  princes.  Here  he  walked  for  an  hour, 
stopping  and  chatting  with  any  one  he  happened 
to  know.  He  was  always  unguarded  at  Windsor, 
thereby  giving  to  his  subjects  liberal  credit  for  that 
loyalty  which  a  King  so  benevolent  had  a  right  to 

How  simple  were  the  King's  manners  was  known 
all  his  neighbours.  Many  are  the  homely  stories 
Id  of  him.  He  was  wont  to  wander  about  the 
virons  of  Windsor,  accompanied  by  one  or  more 
of  his  children.  On  one  occasion  it  is  related  they 
met  a  farmer's  cart  with  a  load  of  hay.  The 
roads  were  swollen,  the  cart  got  in  a  deep  rut, 
and  there  it  stuck  fast.  Instantly  the  King  and 
Prince  George  went  to  the  farmer's  assistance,  and 
after  some  straining  of  muscle  extricated  the  vehicle. 

N  193 


Hodge,  filled  with  gratitude,  hoped  his  fellow-farmer 
would  take  a  glass  of  ale  with  him  at  the  next 
tavern.  Laughingly  declining  the  offer,  George, 
on  parting,  slipped  a  guinea  into  the  man's  hand, 
which  sum  was  doubled  by  the  young  Prince,  even 
at  fifteen  vastly  liberal.  The  man  continued  on  his 
way,  and  related  his  good  luck  to  the  innkeeper, 
who  told  him  who  his  benefactors  were.  But  the 
fellow  could  not  understand  why  the  Prince  should 
give  him  two  guineas  and  the  King  only  one. 
George  heard  of  the  narration,  and  was  much 
amused.  A  week  later  he  chanced  to  meet  his  fellow- 
farmer,  and  stopping  him  said :  "  Well,  my  friend,  I 
find  you  were  dissatisfied  with  the  smallness  of  my 
present,  and  thought  the  son  more  munificent  than 
the  father.  But  remember  that  I  must  be  just 
before  I  am  generous.  My  son  has  only  himself  to 
think  about,  whilst  I  have  not  only  to  take  care  of 
my  own  family,  but  to  have  regard  to  the  welfare  of 
millions,  who  look  to  me  for  that  protection  which 
your  own  children  at  home  expect  and  demand  from 
you.  Go  home  and  be  content." 

There  is  still  another  credible  anecdote.  Whilst 
George  was  in  good  health  it  was  his  custom  to 
go  to  the  mews  at  Windsor  early  and  pat  his 
favourite  horses.  One  morning  his  grooms  were 
having  a  dispute,  and  they  did  not  notice  his  presence. 
"  I  don't  care  what  you  say,  Robert,"  said  one,  "  but 
every  one  else  agrees  that  the  man  at  the  Three 
Tuns  makes  the  best  purl  in  Windsor."  "Purl, 
purl,"  said  the  King  quickly ;  "  Robert,  what's 
purl?"  This  was  explained  to  be  warm  beer,  with 

"I   HAVE    NO   MORE" 

some  gin  and  spice  added.  The  King  listened  with 
attention,  and  then  turning  said  so  that  they  could 
all  hear,  "  I  dare  say  a  very  good  drink  ;  but,  grooms, 
too  strong  for  the  morning.  Never  drink  in  a 
morning."  Nearly  eight  years  after  this  incident 
the  King  went  to  the  stables  much  earlier  than 
usual,  and  found  only  a  young  lad  recently  engaged 
on  the  premises.  "  Boy,  boy,"  said  he,  "  where  are 
the  grooms  ;  where  are  the  grooms  ? "  "I  don't 
know,  sir ;  but  they  will  soon  be  back,  because  they 
expect  the  King."  "Ah,  ah,"  said  he,  "then  run, 
boy,  and  say,  the  King  expects  them ;  run,  boy,  to 
the  '  Three  Tuns ' ;  they  are  sure  to  be  there,  for 
the  landlord  makes  the  best  purl  in  AVindsor." 

It  was  a  successor  of  this  same  lad  who  after- 
wards narrated  another  story.  Early  one  morning 
he  met  a  boy  in  the  stables  at  Windsor  and  said  : 
"  Well,  boy !  what  do  you  do  ?  What  do  they  pay 
you?"  "I  help  in  the  stable,"  said  the  boy,  "but 
they  only  give  me  victuals  and  clothes."  "  Be  con- 
tent," said  George,  "  I  have  no  more." 

George  was  occasionally  fond  of  moving  about 
incognito.     Once  on  a  tour  the  King  went  to  look 
at  Salisbury  Cathedral,  the  tower  of  which  was  at 
that  time  under  repair.     He  was  without  attendants, 
and  his  person,  at  first,  was  not  recognised.     Look- 
ing over  the  book  of  subscribers,  he  desired  to  be 
!  put  down  for  £1000.      "  What  name  shall  I  write, 
t  sir  ? "    asked    the    verger.      "  Oh !    a   gentleman   of 
1   Berkshire,"  replied  George,  with  a  grave  chuckle. 

In  town  the  King  rarely  missed  an  evening  at 
1  the  opera.     He  had  not  only  a  good  ear  for  melody, 




but  a  taste  for  the  most  classical  compositions. 
"  His  Majesty's  partiality  for  Handel's  music  was 
generally  spoken  of,"  says  Michael  Kelly  in  his 
Reminiscences,  "  but  I  believe  it  was  not  universally 
known  what  an  excellent  and  correct  judge  he  was 
of  its  merits."  Almost  equally  fond  was  George 
of  the  drama.  He  was  as  great  and  discriminating 
a  playgoer  as  his  royal  successor  Edward  VII.,  and, 
it  may  be  added,  as  catholic  in  his  tastes.  No  point 
of  dialogue  or  action  appeared  to  escape  him,  and 
the  laughter  and  applause  which  proceeded  from 
the  royal  box  coincided  with  the  responsiveness  o 
the  intelligent  pit.  Garrick  and  Mrs.  Siddons  were 
both  in  turn  frequently  at  Buckingham  House  or 
Windsor,  where  they  entertained  the  royal  circle 
with  the  recital  of  plays  or  poetry. 

Of  the  mode  of  life  of  the  royal  couple  perhaps 
the    best    picture    is    to   be   found   in    a    diary    o 
Dr.    Beattie,    narrating    his   introduction   at    Kew 
On   an   August   day   in    1773,   Beattie  set  out   foi 
Dr.  Majendie's  at  Kew  Green.      "  The  doctor  tok 
me,"  he  writes,  "that  he  had   not  seen  the  King 
yesterday,  but  had  left  a  note  in  writing  to  intimate 
that  I  was  to  be  at  his  house  to-day ;  and  that  one 
of  the  King's  pages  had  come  to  him  this  morning 
to  say,  *  That  his  Majesty  would  see  me  a  little  aftei 
twelve.'     At  twelve  the  doctor  and  I  went  to  th< 
King's  house  at  Kew.      We  had  only  been  a  few 
minutes  in  the  hall  when  the  King  and  Queen  came 
in  from  an  airing ;  and  as  they  passed  through  tin 
hall,  the  King  called  me  by  name,  and  asked  how 
long  it  was  since  I   came  from  town.     I  answered 


him,   *  About  an  hour.'     '  I  shall  see  you,'  says  he, 
*  in  a  little  while.' 

"  The  doctor  and  I  waited  a  considerable  time, 

for  the    King   was  busy,  and  then  we  were  called 

into  a  large  room,  furnished  as  a  library,  where  the 

King   was   walking   about,  and   the   Queen    sitting 

in  a  chair.     We  were  received  in  the  most  gracious 

manner   possible   by   both   their   Majesties.     I    had 

the   honour   of  a    conversation  with  them,  nobody 

else  being  present  but  Dr.   Majendie,  for  upwards 

of  an  hour  on  a  great  variety  of  topics,  in  which 

both  the  King  and  Queen  joined,  with  a  degree  of 

cheerfulness,   affability,    and   ease   that   was   to   me 

surprising,  and  soon   dissipated   the  embarrassment 

which  I   felt   at  the  beginning   of  the   conference. 

They  both  complimented  me  in  the  highest  terms 

on   my  Essay,   which   they  said   was   a   book  they 

always  kept  by  them ;   and  the  King  said  he  had 

one  copy  of  it  at  Kew,  and  another  in  town,  and 

immediately  went  and  took  it  from  a  shelf.     I  found 

it  was  the  second  edition.      '  I  never  stole  a  book 

:  but  once,'  said  his  Majesty,  *  and  that  was  yours ' 

(speaking  to  me) :   '  I  stole  it  from  the  Queen,  to 

;  give  it  to  Lord  Hertford  to  read.'     He  had  heard 

i  that   the    sale   of  Hume's   Essays   had  failed  since 

i  my   book   was    published ;    and    I   told   him   what 

f  Mr.  Strahan  had  told  me  in  regard  to  that  matter. 

*  He  had  even  heard  of  my  being  at  Edinburgh  last 

*  summer,  and  how  Mr.  Hume  was  offended  on  the 
it  score  of  my  book.     He  asked  many  questions  about 
1  the  second  part  of  the  Essay,  and  when  it  would 

*  be  ready  for  the  press.     He  asked  how  long  I  had 



been  composing  my  Essay,  praised  the  caution 
with  which  it  was  written,  and  said  that  he  did 
not  wonder  that  it  had  employed  me  five  or  six 
years.  He  asked  about  my  Poems.  We  had  much 
conversation  on  moral  subjects.  This  brought  on 
some  discourse  about  Quakers,  whose  moderation  and 
mild  behaviour  the  King  and  Queen  commended. 
I  was  asked  many  questions  about  the  Scots  uni- 
versities, the  revenues  of  the  Scots  clergy,  their 
mode  of  praying  and  preaching,  the  medical  college 
of  Edinburgh,  Dr.  Gregory,  and  Dr.  Cullen  ;  the 
length  of  our  vacation  at  Aberdeen,  and  the  close- 
ness of  our  attendance  during  the  winter;  the 
number  of  students  that  attend  my  lectures,  my 
mode  of  lecturing,  whether  from  notes  or  com- 
pletely written  lectures ;  about  Mr.  Hume,  and 
Dr.  Robertson,  and  Lord  Kinnoul,  and  the  Arch- 
bishop of  York,  &c.  His  Majesty  asked  what  I 
thought  of  my  new  acquaintance,  Lord  Dartmouth  ? 
I  said  there  was  something  in  his  air  and  manner 
which  I  thought  not  only  agreeable,  but  enchanting, 
and  that  he  seemed  to  me  to  be  one  of  the  best  of 
men ;  a  sentiment  in  which  both  their  Majesties 
heartily  joined.  '  They  say  that  Lord  Dartmouth 
is  an  enthusiast,'  said  the  King ;  '  but  surely  he  says 
nothing  on  the  subject  of  religion,  but  what  every! 
Christian  may  and  ought  to  say.' 

"  He  asked  whether  I  did  not  think  the  English  | 
language  on  the  decline  at  present?  I  answered  in 
the  affirmative;  and  the  King  agreed,  and  named 
the  Spectator  as  one  of  the  best  standards  of  the; 
language.  When  I  told  him  that  the  Scots  clergy 


sometimes  prayed  a  quarter,  or  even  half-an-hour  at 
a  time,  he  asked  whether  that  did  not  lead  them 
into  repetitions  ?  I  said  it  often  did.  '  That,'  said  he, 
*  I  don't  like  in  prayers  ;  and  excellent  as  our  Liturgy 
is,  I  think  it  somewhat  faulty  in  that  respect.' 
'Your  Majesty  knows,'  said  I,  'that  three  services 
are  joined  in  one  in  the  ordinary  Church  Service, 
which  is  one  cause  of  these  repetitions.'  '  True,'  he 
replied ;  '  and  that  circumstance  also  makes  the 
service  too  long.'  From  this  he  took  occasion  to 
speak  of  the  composition  of  the  Church  Liturgy,  on 
which  he  very  justly  bestowed  the  highest  commenda- 
tion. '  Observe,'  his  Majesty  said,  '  how  flat  these 
occasional  prayers  are,  that  are  now  composed,  in 
comparison  with  the  old  ones.'  When  I  mentioned 
the  smallness  of  the  Church  livings  in  Scotland,  he 
said,  '  He  wondered  how  men  of  liberal  education 
would  choose  to  become  clergymen  there';  and 
asked,  '  Whether,  in  the  remote  parts  of  the  country, 
the  clergy  in  general  were  not  very  ignorant  ? '  I 
answered,  '  No ;  for  that  education  was  cheap  in 
Scotland,  and  that  the  clergy  in  general  were  men 
of  good  sense  and  competent  learning.'  He  asked 
whether  we  had  any  good  preachers  in  Aberdeen  ? 
I  said,  '  Yes,'  and  named  Campbell  and  Gerard  ;  with 
whose  names,  however,  I  did  not  find  that  he  was 
acquainted.  Dr.  Majendie  mentioned  Dr.  Oswald's 
Appeal  with  commendation ;  I  praised  it  too  ;  and  the 
Queen  took  down  the  name  with  a  view  to  send  for 
it.  I  was  asked  whether  I  knew  Dr.  Oswald?  I 
answered,  I  did  not ;  and  said  that  my  book  was 
published  before  I  read  his  ;  that  Dr.  Oswald  was 



well  known  to  Lord  Kinnoul,  who  had  often  proposed 
to  make  us  acquainted.  We  discussed  a  great  many 
other  topics,  for  the  conversation  lasted  upwards  of 
an  hour.  The  Queen  bore  a  large  share  in  it.  Both 
the  King  and  her  Majesty  showed  a  great  deal  of 
good  sense,  acuteness,  and  knowledge,  as  well  as  of 
good-nature  and  affability.  At  last  the  King  took 
out  his  watch  (for  it  was  now  almost  three  o'clock, 
his  hour  of  dinner),  which  Dr.  Majendie  and  I  took 
as  a  signal  to  withdraw.  We  accordingly  bowed  to 
their  Majesties,  and  I  addressed  the  King  in  these 
words :  '  I  hope,  sir,  your  Majesty  will  pardon  me 
if  I  take  this  opportunity  to  return  you  my  humble 
and  most  grateful  acknowledgments  for  the  honour 
you  have  been  pleased  to  confer  upon  me.'  He 
immediately  answered,  '  I  think  I  could  do  no  less 
for  a  man  who  has  done  so  much  service  for  the 
cause  of  Christianity :  I  shall  always  be  glad  of 
an  opportunity  to  show  the  good  opinion  I  have 
of  you.' 

"  The  Queen  sat  all  the  while,  and  the  King  stood, 
sometimes  walking  about  a  little.  Her  Majesty 
speaks  the  English  language  with  surprising  elegance, 
and  little  or  nothing  of  a  foreign  manner ;  so  that  if 
she  were  only  of  the  rank  of  a  private  gentlewoman, 
one  could  not  help  taking  notice  of  her  as  one  of  the 
most  agreeable  women  in  the  world.  Her  face  is 
much  more  pleasing  than  any  of  her  pictures  ;  and  in 
the  expression  of  her  eyes,  and  in  her  smile,  there  is 
something  peculiarly  engaging."1 

That  the  King  treated  all  his  subjects,  even  upon 

1  Sir  W.  Forbes'  Life  of  Beattie,  i.  347-51. 

«  WE   LIKE   POWER " 

Court  occasions,  with  familiarity  is  further  shown  by 
an  anecdote  of  Mr.  Boulton,  an  engineer  of  Soho, 
near  Birmingham.  He  was  a  man  of  the  world,  and 
went  sometimes  to  Court,  where  he  was  always 
noticed  by  the  King.  At  one  of  the  levees  the 
King  said,  "  Well,  Mr.  Boulton,  I  am  glad  to  see 
you.  What  new  project  have  you  got  now  ?  I 
know  you  are  always  at  something  new."  "  I  am," 
said  Mr.  Boulton,  "  manufacturing  a  new  article  that 
kings  are  very  fond  of."  "Ay,  ay,  Mr.  Boulton, 
what's  that  ? "  "  It  is  power,  may  it  please  your 
Majesty."  "  Power !  Mr.  Boulton  ;  we  like  power, 
that's  true  :  but  what  do  you  mean  ? "  "  Why,  sir, 
I  mean  the  power  of  steam  to  move  machines." 
George  did  not  disdain  to  laugh  at  the  small  jest, 
saying,  "  Very  good,  very  good  ;  go  on,  go  on  ! " 




GEORGE  not  only  read  omnivorously,  but  with  great 
taste  and  judgment.  The  plays  of  Shakespeare 
were  perhaps  his  favourite  reading,  and  he  frequently 
referred  to  the  bard  as  the  greatest  ornament  of 
British  literature.  True,  as  he  hinted  to  one  of  his 
courtiers,  in  anticipation  of  one  of  our  most  advanced 
present-day  critics,  Shakespeare  contains  "  much 
sorry  stuff!  Only,"  he  added  humorously,  "  one 
must  not  say  so." 

He  was  intent  on  amassing  a  large  library.  One 
of  the  early  incidents  of  his  reign  which  gave  him  no 
little  pain  was  the  discovery  that  his  mother  had,  as 
the  only  mark  of  gratitude  to  Lord  Bute  within  her 
power,  presented  him  with  the  Prince  of  Wales's 
collection  of  books,  for  which  she  had  no  use.  The 
Princess  Dowager  did  not  possess  any  testamentary 
right  to  make  the  gift.  When  the  Earl  was 
informed  of  the  displeasure  which  George  had 
expressed  on  the  loss  of  the  library,  he  requested 
immediate  permission  to  restore  it.  "  No,  no," 
exclaimed  the  King,  "  that  would  be  committing  my 
mother.  The  act  is  done,  and  I  will  not  be  the  first  | 
to  proclaim  to  the  world  that  she  has  done  anything! 




When  he  granted  a  pension  to  Samuel  Johnson, 
George  had  read  only  "  Rasselas."  "  We  must  now, 
my  dear,"  he  said  to  his  wife,  "  read  all  the  doctor's 
works."  His  granting  a  pension  to  Rousseau,  who 
had  taken  shelter  in  England  from  his  enemies  at 
home,  was  a  tribute  to  the  author  of  the  excellent 
"  Emile."  Some  anxiety  lest  the  award  of  this 
pension  should  appear  like  giving  countenance  to 
the  tenets  of  an  infidel  possessed  him,  for  he 
insisted  that  the  circumstance  should  not  be  made 

As  to  Dr.  Johnson,  when  George  was  informed 
that  the  author  of  "  Rasselas"  occasionally  visited 
the  royal  library  for  the  purpose  of  research,  he 
instructed  the  librarian  to  tell  him  when  the  doctor 
came  again,  as  he  should  like  to  have  the  pleasure 
of  some  talk  with  him.  The  doctor  duly  came, 
and  the  King  being  informed,  royalty  at  once 
repaired  to  pay  its  respects  to  genius.  Johnson, 
we  are  told  by  Boswell,  on  being  told  that  the 
King  was  in  the  room,  started  up  and  stood  still. 
Boswell  relates  faithfully  the  interview.  George, 
after  the  usual  compliments,  asked  some  questions 
about  the  libraries  of  Oxford,  where  the  doctor 
had  lately  been,  and  inquired  if  he  was  then  engaged 
in  any  literary  undertaking.  Johnson  replied  in  the 
negative ;  adding,  that  he  had  pretty  well  told  the 
world  what  he  knew,  and  must  now  read  to  acquire 
more  knowledge.  "  I  do  not  think,"  remarked  the 
King,  "  you  borrow  much  from  anybody."  Johnson 
said  he  thought  he  had  already  done  his  part  as  a 
writer.  "  I  should  have  thought  so  too,"  said  his 



Majesty,  "if  you  had  not  written  so  well."  The 
King  having  observed  that  he  supposed  he  must 
have  read  a  great  deal,  Johnson  answered  that  he 
had  not  read  much  compared  with  Dr.  Warburton. 
On  this  the  King  said,  that  "  He  had  heard  Dr. 
Warburton  was  a  man  of  such  general  knowledge, 
that  you  could  scarce  talk  with  him  on  any  subject 
on  which  he  was  not  qualified  to  speak ;  and  that 
his  learning  resembled  Garrick's  acting  in  its  uni- 
versality." The  King  mentioned  the  controversy 
between  the  rival  scholars,  Warburton  and  Lowth, 
and  asked  Johnson  what  he  thought  of  it.  Johnson 
answered,  "  Warburton  has  most  general  —  most 
scholastic  learning ;  Lowth  is  the  more  correct 
scholar :  I  do  not  know  which  of  them  calls  names 
best."  The  King  was  pleased  to  say  he  was  of 
the  same  opinion;  adding,  "You  do  not  think  then, 
Dr.  Johnson,  there  was  much  argument  in  the 
case  ? "  Johnson  said,  he  did  not  think  there  was. 
"  Why  truly,"  said  George,  "  when  once  it  comes 
to  calling  names,  argument  is  pretty  well  at  an 

His  Majesty  next  asked  him  what  he  thought 
of  Lord  Lyttelton's  History,  which  was  then  just 
published.  Johnson  said,  he  thought  his  style  pretty 
good,  but  that  he  had  blamed  King  Henry  too 
much."  "Why,"  said  the  King,  "they  seldom 
do  these  things  by  halves."  "  No,  sir,"  answered 
Johnson,  "not  to  kings."  But  fearing  to  be  mis- 
understood, he  added,  "That  for  those  who  spoke 
worse  of  kings  than  they  deserved,  he  could  find 
no  excuse ;  but  that  he  could  more  easily  conceive 


how  some  might  speak  better  of  them  than  they 
deserved,  without  any  ill  intention ;  for  as  kings 
had  much  in  their  power  to  give,  those  who  were 
favoured  by  them  would  frequently,  from  gratitude, 
exaggerate  their  praises ;  and  as  this  proceeded  from 
a  good  motive,  it  was  certainly  excusable,  as  far  as 
error  could  be  excusable."  We  suspect  the  King 
must  have  smiled  gravely  at  this.  He  asked  the 
great  scholar  what  he  thought  of  Dr.  Hill.  Johnson 
answered,  that  he  was  an  ingenious  man,  but  had 
no  veracity ;  and  immediately  mentioned  as  an 
instance  of  it  an  assertion  of  that  writer,  that  he 
had  seen  objects  magnified  to  a  much  greater  degree 
by  using  three  or  four  microscopes  at  a  time,  than 
by  using  one.  "  Now,"  added  Johnson,  "  every 
>ne  acquainted  with  microscopes  knows  that  the 
lore  of  them  he  looks  through,  the  less  the  object 
ill  appear."  "  Why,"  replied  the  King,  "  this  is 
not  telling  an  untruth,  but  telling  it  clumsily ;  for 
if  that  be  the  case,  every  one  who  can  look  through 
a  microscope  will  be  able  to  detect  him."  But  that 
he  might  not  leave  an  unfavourable  impression 
against  an  absent  man,  the  doctor  added,  that  "  Dr. 
Hill  was,  notwithstanding,  a  very  curious  observer ; 
and  if  he  would  have  been  contented  to  tell  the 
world  no  more  than  he  knew,  he  might  have  been 
a  very  considerable  man,  and  needed  not  to  have 
recourse  to  such  mean  expedients  to  raise  his  repu- 
tation." The  King  then  talked  of  literary  journals, 
mentioned  particularly  the  Journal  des  Spava?is,  and 
asked  Johnson  if  it  was  well  done.  Johnson  said 
it  was  formerly  well  done,  and  gave  some  account 



of  the  persons  who  began  and  carried  it  on  for 
some  years ;  enlarging  at  the  same  time  on  the 
nature  and  use  of  such  works.  The  King  asked 
him  if  it  was  well  done  now.  Johnson  answered, 
he  had  no  reason  to  think  it  was.  After  discussing 
the  British  literary  journals,  such  as  the  Monthly  and 
Critical  Reviews,  Johnson  said  that  the  Monthly 
Review  was  done  with  the  most  care,  the  Critical 
upon  the  best  principles;  adding,  that  the  authors 
of  the  former  were  hostile  to  the  Church.  This 
the  King  said  he  was  sorry  to  hear. 

The  conversation  next  turned  on  the  Philosophi- 
cal Transactions,  when  Johnson  observed  that  the 
Royal  Society  had  now  a  better  method  of  arranging 
their  materials  than  formerly.  "Ay,"  said  the 
King,  "they  are  obliged  to  Dr.  Johnson  for  that," 
for  his  Majesty  remembered  a  circumstance  which 
Johnson  himself  had  forgotten.  He  expressed  a 
desire  to  have  the  literary  biography  of  this  country 
ably  executed,  and  proposed  to  Johnson  to  undertake 
it ;  and  with  this  wish,  so  graciously  expressed, 
Johnson  readily  complied,  and  soon  afterwards  took 
his  leave.  Johnson  was  a  man  of  rugged  wit  and 
strong  judgment.  The  titles  and  the  trappings  of 
royalty  were  not  likely  to  dazzle  him. 

"  Sir,"  he  said  afterwards — "  sir,  they  may  talk  of 
the  King  as  they  will,  but  he  is  the  finest  gentleman 
I  have  ever  seen!"  George's  manners  and  under- 
standing appear  to  have  greatly  impressed  him.  As 
to  George's  opinion  of  the  doctor,  once  when  the 
works  of  Hume,  and  other  writers  of  the  same  stamp, 
occasioned  considerable  noise,  the  King,  always 


impatient  of  atheists,  remarked  felicitously,  "Now 
I  wish  Johnson  would  mount  his  drayhorse  and  ride 
over  those  fellows." 

The  noble  library  at  Buckingham  House  appears 
to  have  been  open,  not  exclusively  to  Dr.  Johnson, 
but  to  every  recognised  man  of  literature  of  the 
day.  Even  the  Socinian  Priestley  was,  with  singular 
liberality,  not  refused  admission.  "  If  Dr.  Priestley," 
wrote  George  to  Lord  North  in  February  1779, 
"  applies  to  my  librarian,  he  will  have  permission 
to  see  the  library,  as  other  men  of  science  have 
had ;  but  I  cannot  think  his  character  as  a  politician 
or  divine  deserves  my  appearing  at  all  in  it." 

Such  was  George's  zeal  for  literature  and  literary 
merit  that  in  1773  he  proposed  to  institute  a  new 
order  of  knighthood,  called  the  Order  of  Minerva. 
It  was  to  consist  of  twenty-four  knights  and  the 
sovereign,  and  to  rank  next  to  the  military  order  of 
the  Bath.  The  knights  were  to  wear  a  silver  star  of 
nine  points,  and  a  straw-coloured  ribbon  from  the 
right  shoulder  to  the  left.  A  figure  of  Minerva  was 
to  have  been  embroidered  in  the  centre  of  the  star, 
with  the  motto,  "  Omnia  posthabita  Scientiae."  It 

tsaid  that   the   literati  were  so   certain   that   this 
>w   order  would  be  adopted,  that  there  was   even 
me  disagreement  between  the  self-elected  candidates 
for  the  honour.     George  did  not,  however,  carry  his 
proposition  into  execution,  perhaps  because  he  feared 
the  jealousy   which  would   arise,  and  which   would 
render  the  institution  an  evil  rather  than  a  benefit, 
particularly  just  at  that  time  when  party  politics  ran 
so  high. 



To  the  King  it  was  owing  that  the  professorship 
of  history  at  Oxford,  which  had  hitherto  been  a  sine- 
cure, was  made  a  resident  appointment.  "His  Majesty 
was  also  aware,"  says  Huish,  "that  in  the  various 
departments  of  literature,  history  was  at  this  time 
the  least  studied.  The  taste  of  the  age,  as  far  as  books 
were  concerned,  was  frivolous  in  the  extreme  ;  and, 
although  there  were  some  stars  of  the  first  magnitude 
shining  in  the  hemisphere  of  literature,  yet  their  splen- 
dour could  not  penetrate  the  gloom  which  hung  over 
the  nation,  the  genius  of  which  appeared  to  be 
diverted  into  a  track  by  no  means  natural  to  it." 
It  was  his  expressed  opinion  that  "  without  a  correct 
knowledge  of  that  science,  the  character  of  neither 
the  statesman  nor  the  politician  can  be  considered 
as  perfect."  He  therefore  ordered  that  a  course  of 
lectures  should  be  regularly  transmitted  to  him  for 
his  perusal  and  approbation. 

Upon  being  a  patron  of  the  fine  arts,  and 
especially  painting,  George  also  prided  himself,  and 
certainly  he  had  not  been  long  on  the  throne  before 
painting  and  sculpture  began  to  flourish.  In  1769 
was  established  the  Royal  Academy,  of  which 
the  King  always  gloried  in  being  the  founder. 
He  gave  the  Academy  magnificent  apartments  at 
Somerset  House,  and  was  much  concerned  when 
Barry  (who  painted  the  great  room  of  the  Society 
of  Arts)  incurred  the  displeasure  of  the  academicians 
by  his  public  criticism  of  the  main  design  of  the 
buildings  of  Somerset  House,  taking  sides  with  Sir! 
William  Chambers,  who  was  his  first  architect,! 
against  Barry.  He  used  to  devote  several  hours  to 


his   annual   view   of  the   exhibition.     "  Though   he 
asked   the   opinions  of  the   attendant   artists,"  says 
Huish,  "yet   in   his  accustomed  rapid  manner   was 
generally  pretty  free  in  his  own  remarks.    He  always 
manifested  his  patriotic  feeling  at  the  proofs  of  rising 
native  talents,  exclaiming  '  Clever  artist ! '  *  Promising 
young  man,  this  ! J  &c.     Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  was 
an  immense  favourite  with  him.     Afterwards  there 
succeeded    Benjamin    West,    whom    he    employed 
oftener.     With  this  eminent  artist  he  allowed  his 
kingly   dignity  to  lose   itself  in   long   and  familiar 
chit-chat ;  but,  as  in  all  such  cases,  he  could  resume 
it   at   once   if  occasion   seemed  to  require  it.     He 
had  a  strong  fancy  for  portraits.     Though  he  bought 
a  good  many  pictures,  he  was  ever  far  enough  from 
expending   improvident   sums   for   them."      Besides 
Allan  Ramsay,  George  patronised  Northcote,  Zoffany, 
Gainsborough,   and   Romney.      There    is   a   whole- 
length  of  the  King  in  one  of  the  state  rooms,  habited 
in  his  parliament  robes,  which  he  thought  a  good 
likeness,  and  generally  asked  his  visitors  to  look  at. 
Altogether    there   was    a    fine    royal    collection    at 
h     Windsor,  Buckingham  House,  and  Hampton  Court ; 
r     some  good  portraits  at  Kensington ;  but  there  were 
rt     fewer   works   of   the    highest   merit,    and   those   in 
r     the  Council  Chamber   at  St.  James's.      The  King 
}     patronised    the    valuable    improvements    of    Jarvis 
K     and   others   in   the   beautiful  art  of  painting  glass 
tf     windows. 

ft  Mention    has    been    made    of    the    pension    to 

ct     Rousseau,    but    it    was    not    the    only    instance    of 
tf     George's  toleration  which  he  extended  to  religious 

o  209 


matters  whenever  toleration  did  not  appear  to  him 
to  be  inconsistent  with  his  coronation  oath.     Once 
his  carriage  was  stopped  by  a  crowd,  whom  he  was 
told    were    objecting    to    the    Methodists.      "  The 
Methodists,"  he  said  aloud,  "  are  a  quiet  and  good 
kind  of  people,  and  will  disturb  nobody.     If  I  can 
learn  that  any  persons  in  my  employment  disturb 
them,  they  shall  be  instantly  dismissed."     He  gave 
a  thousand   pounds  to  the  Dissenting  Ministers  in 
Nova  Scotia,  and  also   subscribed  a  large  sum  for 
building  a  German  Lutheran  Church  in  the  Savoy. 
Once    a    Bishop    complained    to    George    of    the 
Dissenters    and    the    great    disturbance    they  were 
making  in  his  diocese.     The  King  immediately  in- 
terrupted him  with  the  remark,  "  Make  Bishops  of 
them,  my  Lord,  make  Bishops  of  them  ! "     "  But," 
was    the    reply,   "we    cannot    make    a    Bishop    of 
Lady  Huntingdon."     "Well,  well,"  quoth  George, 
"  but  see  if  you   cannot   imitate  the  zeal  of  these 
people.      I  wish  there  was  a  Lady  Huntingdon  in 
every   diocese   of    my  kingdom."1     The   day   came 
when   that   zealous   and   excellent   female   sectarian 
became    known   personally   to   her    sovereign.      "  I 
have  been  told,"  said  George,  "  so  many  odd  things 
of  your  ladyship,  that  I  am  free  to  confess  I  felt  a 
great  degree  of  curiosity  to  see  if  you  were  at  all 
like   other  women."      He  added,   however,    "I  am 
happy  in  having  an   opportunity   of  assuring  your 
ladyship  of  the  very  good  opinion  I  have  of  you, 
your  zeal,  and  abilities,  which  cannot  be  consecrated 
to  a  more  noble  purpose."     If  the  King  was  pleased 

1  Life  and  Times  of  the  Countess  of  Huntingdon,  vol.  ii.  p.  282. 


with  the  Countess  of  Huntingdon,  she  seems  to 
have  been  no  less  satisfied  with  her  reception  by  the 
Head  of  the  Church.  "  We  discussed,"  she  writes, 
"a  great  many  topics,  for  the  conversation  lasted 
upwards  of  an  hour  without  intermission.  The 
Queen  spoke  a  good  deal,  asked  many  questions, 
and  before  I  retired  insisted  on  my  taking  some 
refreshment.  On  parting  I  was  permitted  to  kiss 
their  Majesties'  hands,  and  when  I  returned  my 
humble  and  most  grateful  acknowledgments  for 
their  very  great  condescension,  their  Majesties  im- 
mediately assured  me  they  felt  both  gratified  and 
pleased  with  the  interview,  which  they  were  so 
obliging  as  to  wish  might  be  renewed."  Two  years 
afterwards,  when  a  lady  of  high  rank,  adopting  the 
fashionable  jargon  of  the  day,  sneered  at  this 
admirable  woman  as  a  mere  wild  enthusiast,  the 
King  at  once  undertook  her  defence.  "Are  you 
acquainted  with  Lady  Huntingdon  ? "  he  good- 
humouredly  asked.  "No,"  was  the  reply.  "Have 
you  ever  been  in  company  with  her  ? "  "  Never." 
"  Then,"  said  the  King,  "  never  form  your  opinion 
of  any  one  from  the  ill-natured  remarks  and  cen- 
sures of  others.  Judge  for  yourself;  and  you  have 
my  leave  to  tell  anybody  how  highly  I  think  of 
Lady  Huntingdon." 1 

The  prime  motive  of  the  interview  which  the 
aristocratic  zealot  sought  was  to  induce  her  sovereign 
to  reprove  no  less  a  personage  than  the  Primate.  It 
appears  that  Dr.  Cornwallis  was  so  infected  with  the 
spirit  of  levity  which  characterised  the  times  that  he 

i  Ibid. 

21  I 


became  unduly  indulgent  in  his  official  conduct,  as 
may  be  seen  by  the  following  letter  which  George 
addressed  to  him  :— 

"  MY  GOOD  LORD  PRELATE, — I  could  not  delay 
giving  you  the  notification  of  the  grief  and  concern 
with  which  my  breast  was  affected  at  receiving  an 
authentic  information  that  routs  have  made  their 
way  into  your  palace.  At  the  same  time  I  must 
signify  to  you  my  sentiments  on  this  subject,  which 
hold  these  levities  and  vain  dissipations  as  utterly 
inexpedient,  if  not  unlawful,  to  pass  in  a  residence 
for  many  centuries  devoted  to  divine  studies,  religious 
retirements,  and  the  extensive  exercise  of  charity  and 
benevolence — I  add,  in  a  place  where  so  many  of 
your  predecessors  have  led  their  lives  in  such  sanctity, 
as  has  thrown  lustre  upon  the  pure  religion  they  pro- 
fessed and  adorned. 

"  From  the  dissatisfaction  with  which  you  must 
perceive  I  behold  these  improprieties,  not  to  speak  in 
harsher  terms,  and  still  more  pious  principles,  I  trust 
you  will  suppress  them  immediately ;  so  that  I  may 
not  have  occasion  to  show  any  further  marks  of  my 
displeasure,  or  to  interpose  in  a  different  manner. 
May  God  take  your  Grace  into  His  almighty  pro- 
tection ! " 

If  the  pranks  and  vagaries  of  his  children1  did 

1  Besides  the  Prince  of  Wales,  the  King  was  parent  of  Frederick 
Bishop  of  Osnaburg,  afterwards  Duke  of  York,  born  l6th  Augus 
1763  ;  William  Henry,  Duke  of  Clarence,  born  22nd  August  1765 
Charlotte  Augusta   Matilda,  Duchess  of  Wiirtemberg,  born   29th 
September    1766;    Prince    Edward,    Duke    of    Kent,    born    2nd 
November  1767  ;  the  Princess  Augusta  Sophia,  born  8th  Novembe 
1 768.     But  his  quiver  was  scarce  yet  half  full. 


not  at  present  cause  him  anxiety,  yet  George  had 
not  been  long  on  the  throne  before  he  began  to  taste 
domestic  affliction.  The  death  of  his  uncle,  the 
Duke  of  Cumberland,  deeply  affected  him. 

In  December  1765  George's  youngest  brother, 
Prince  Frederick  William,  a  most  promising  youth, 
died  at  the  age  of  fifteen,  and  in  September  1767 
Prince  Edward  Augustus,  Duke  of  York,  who  had 
shown  excellent  parts  as  a  sailor,  passed  away  at 
the  age  of  twenty -eight.  George  had  recently 
become  estranged  from  his  brother,  owing  to  the 
latter's  dissolute  behaviour.  "  The  papers,"  writes 
Mary  Townshend,  "  are  full  of  pathetic  accounts  of 
the  Duke  of  York's  death.  He  wrote  a  letter  to 
the  King,  expressing  great  uneasiness  at  their  having 
parted  on  such  terms,  which  I  hear  the  King  was 
very  much  moved  at  reading." 

Of  George's  numerous  brothers  and  sisters,  the 
eldest  was  the  Princess  Augusta,  who  united  to  a 
comely  person  a  somewhat  difficile  character.  She 
even  ventured  to  rally  her  royal  brother  on  his 
>litical  prejudices  and  partialities.  Her  sallies  had 
lore  than  once  embarrassed  the  King,  and  he  was 
intensely  relieved  when  a  husband  was  found  for 
her  in  Prince  Charles  of  Brunswick- Wolfenbiittel,  an 
jlder  brother  of  the  lady  formerly  destined  for  him- 
?lf.  All  seemed  to  have  regarded  the  match  as 
eminently  suitable.  George's  only  complaint  was 
that  the  Prince  had  far  exceeded  his  bride  in  the 
imprudence  of  his  comments  on  England,  English 
politics  and  politicians.  He  did  his  best  to  overlook 
the  Prince's  amazing  indiscretions  when  he  came  in 


person  to  claim  the  Princess's  hand.  Prince  Charles 
actually  visited  Pitt  at  Hayes,  which  established  him 
in  great  popularity  with  the  Opposition.  Two  days 
after  their  marriage  in  July  1764,  when  the  royal 
family  attended  Covent  Garden  Theatre,  the  King 
and  Queen  were  received  almost  in  silence,  while 
the  appearance  of  the  Prince  and  Princess  was  the 
signal  for  tumultuous  applause.  Charles  and  his 
bride  smiled  approbation.  Too  many  instances  of 
this  sort  took  place,  showing  the  inclination  of 
Brunswick  to  play  to  the  gallery.  George  was 
naturally  much  relieved  wrhen  his  churlish  brother- 
in-law  departed. 

But  the  love  he  bore  his  sister  made  him  receive 
with  pain  the  news,  which  soon  came  to  hand,  of 
her  wedded  life.  The  Prince  was  dissolute  and  un- 
faithful. Their  place  at  Brunswick,  wrote  Rigby  to 
the  Duke  of  Bedford,  "  is  a  miserable,  wooden  house, 
poorly  furnished,  and  Brunswick  one  of  the  worst 
towns  even  in  Germany."  After  eighteen  months 
of  unhappiness  the  Duchess  seized  an  opportunity 
of  returning  for  a  few  months'  holiday  in  England. 
George  had  often  to  listen  to  bitter  regrets  from  his 
sister  at  the  match  which  the  Princess  Dowager  had 
made  for  her. 

Unhappy  as  was  the  fate  of  the  eldest  it  was  mild 
indeed  compared  with  that  of  another  sister,  Caroline 
Matilda,  a  really  graceful  and  amiable  girl.  She 
was  only  sixteen  in  1766  when  she  was  married  by 
proxy  in  the  royal  chapel  of  St.  James's  to  Christian 
VII.  of  Denmark.  Only  too  plain  was  it  that  the 
match  was  against  her  own  wishes,  that  she  left  her 


native  country  with  obvious  reluctance.  It  was  soon 
an  open  secret  that  her  marriage  was  unfortunate. 
A  couple  of  years  later  Christian  paid  his  royal 
brother-in-law  a  visit.  Christian's  character,  although 
he  was  but  one-and-twenty  years  of  age,  was  coarse 
and  profligate,  and  George  did  not  expect  any  more 
pleasure  from  his  sojourn  in  England  than  he  had 
from  his  other  brother-in-law.  He  well  knew,  how- 
ever, that  if  he  failed  in  any  attentions  to  Denmark's 
youthful  sovereign,  the  Opposition  would  be  sure 
to  make  capital  of  it.  He  wrote  therefore  to  the 
Secretary,  Lord  Weymouth,  that  he  was  desirous 
of  making  his  royal  guest's  stay  as  agreeable  as 
possible.  "  I  therefore  wish  to  be  thoroughly  apprised 
of  the  mode  in  which  he  chooses  to  be  treated,  that 
I  may  exactly  conform  to  it.  This  will  throw  what- 
ever may  displease  the  King  of  Denmark,  during 
his  stay  here,  on  his  shoulders,  and  consequently 
free  me  from  that  desagrement ;  but  you  know 
very  well  that  the  whole  of  it  is  very  disagreeable 
to  me." 

What  George  apprehended  really  happened.  The 
patent  fact  that  there  was,  and  could  be,  no  real 
love  between  the  monarchs,  was  quite  sufficient  for 
Opposition  to  make  the  Danish  King,  as  they  had 
done  the  Brunswick  Duke,  a  popular  hero.  George 
heard  with  anger  and  contempt  that  his  brother-in- 
law  spent  his  time  frolicking  in  the  stews  and  pot- 
houses of  St.  Giles's,  and  that  his  entourage  was 
compounded  of  knaves  and  sycophants.  Christian 
quietly  took  his  departure,  with  the  worst  yet  to 
come.  A  royal  tragedy  was  already  shaping,  a 



tragedy  one  of  the  most  famous,  as  it  is  one  of 
the  most  heartrending,  in  the  history  of  the 

On  his  return  to  Denmark  Christian's  irregulari- 
ties continued.  To  such  a  mental  and  physical 
state  did  he  finally  reduce  himself  that  Caroline 
threw  off  all  prudence  and  entered  into  a  plot, 
almost  openly  throwing  herself  into  the  arms  of  an 
adventurer  named  Struensee.  This  individual,  young 
and  handsome,  had  been  formerly  a  court  physician, 
whose  talents  had  raised  him  into  the  position  of 
Danish  Prime  Minister.  A  public  scandal  was  the 
result,  followed  by  a  plan  on  the  part  of  the  Queen 
Dowager  to  seize  both  the  Queen  and  Struensee. 
A  masquerade  had  been  held  at  Copenhagen ;  the 
dancers  had  retired  to  their  apartments  when  the 
plot  was  put  into  instant  execution  by  soldiers  acting 
under  the  Queen  Dowager's  commands.  Struensee 
was  flung  into  a  dungeon,  and  the  wretched  Queen, 
bearing  her  infant  daughter  in  her  arms,  was  hurried 
to  the  castle  of  Cronenburg,  where  for  the  next  four 
months  she  was  immured.  Her  husband,  a  helpless 
tool  in  the  hands  of  the  revolutionary  faction,  wrote 
to  George  merely  to  say  that  his  sister  Caroline 
Matilda  had  behaved  in  a  manner  which  obliged 
him  to  imprison  her,  but  that  out  of  regard  to  his 
Majesty  her  life  should  be  safe. 

The  charges  brought  against  his  sister  bowed 
George  down  with  mingled  shame  and  grief.  He 
was  advised  that  in  all  probability,  unless  his 
Government  interfered,  the  erring  Queen's  life  was 
in  danger.  Her  paramour,  Struensee,  together  with 


his  companion  and  friend  Brandt,  had  been  beheaded 
with  accompaniments  of  odious  barbarity.  Not  un- 
likely the  Queen  would  have  shared  the  same  fate 
had  not  a  strong  British  squadron  been  despatched 
to  the  Baltic,  which,  together  with  the  representa- 
tions of  Sir  Robert  Keith,  the  British  Minister, 
induced  the  Danish  revolutionaries  to  consent  to 
her  surrender. 

The  parting  with  her  infant  caused  the  unhappy 
Caroline  the  most  dreadful  pangs.  "  After  bestow- 
ing repeated  caresses  upon  this  darling  object  of 
affection,"  wrote  Archdeacon  Coxe,  "  she  retired  to 
the  vessel  in  an  agony  of  despair.  She  remained 
on  deck,  her  eyes  immovably  directed  towards  the 
palace  of  Cronenburg,  which  contained  the  child 
which  had  been  her  only  comfort  so  long,  until 
darkness  intercepted  the  view."1  Under  British 
escort  the  miserable  Queen  was  conveyed  to  Hanover, 
where  the  castle  of  Zell  was  got  ready  for  her  occu- 
pancy by  her  brother's  orders.  Here,  surrounded  by 
a  small  and  devoted  court,  she  spent  three  years  of 
captivity,  and  died  in  May  1775,  but  twenty-three 
years  of  age.  On  her  deathbed  she  sent  for  the 
pastor  of  the  French  Protestant  Church  at  Zell, 
and  said  to  him  solemnly :  "  I  am  about  to  appear 
before  God ;  I  now  protest  that  I  am  innocent  of 
the  crimes  imputed  against  me,  and  that  I  was  never 
faithless  to  my  husband."  It  is  said  that  she  also 
in  her  dying  hours  wrote  to  her  brother  King  George 
protesting  her  innocence,  and  such  a  letter  has  been 
published  by  one  of  her  biographers,  but  Jesse's 

1  Coxe's  Travels,  vol.  v.  p.  113. 



investigations  seem  to  render  it  extremely  improbable 
that  such  a  letter  was  ever  written. 

The  whole  episode  shocked  and  afflicted  George 
deeply.  At  the  same  time,  he  loved  his  sister  too 
dearly  to  accept  fully  the  story  of  her  follies  and 
infidelities.  Not  daring  to  trust  himself  to  write 
to  her,  he  planned  a  journey  to  Hanover  for  the 
purpose  of  hearing  her  defence  from  her  own  lips, 
with  the  public  excuse  that  he  went  to  take  formal 
possession  of  his  Electoral  dominions.  The  state  of 
the  political  world  in  Britain,  however,  forced  him 
to  relinquish  this  design,  and  he  was  destined  never 
to  execute  it. 

In  May  1768  the  career  of  the  King's  third  sister, 
the  Princess  Louisa  Anne,  was  terminated  by  death. 
Although  nineteen  years  of  age,  she  was  of  so  delicate 
a  constitution  that  she  seemed  many  years  younger. 
Her  sweet  disposition  and  chronic  ill-health  had 
endeared  her  to  George.  When  he  heard  that  death 
had  put  an  end  to  her  sufferings,  he  shut  himself 
up  for  a  whole  day  in  his  own  room  at  Kew  and 
gave  way  to  silent  sorrow. 

A  still  further  source  of  wretchedness  to  the 
King  later  was  the  conduct  of  Ernest  Augustus, 
afterwards  Duke  of  Cumberland.  This  brother 
became  involved  in  a  scandalous  connection  with 
Lady  Grosvenor,  and  being  dragged  into  court  by 
the  lady's  husband  on  the  charge  of  adultery,  had  to 
pay  £10,000  damages.  The  King  was  much  upset.! 
"  My  brothers,"  he  wrote  to  Lord  North,  "  have  thisf 
day  applied  about  paying  the  Duke  of  Cumberland's' 
damages  and  costs,  which  if  not  paid  this  day  se'nightj 



the  proctors  will  certainly  force  the  house,  which  in 
these  licentious  times  will  cast  reflection  on  the  rest 
of  the  family.  Whatever  can  be  done,  ought  to  be 
done."  The  affair  cost  him  £13,000  out  of  the  Privy 
Purse.  It  had  scarce  subsided  when  the  Duke  of 
Cumberland,  who  was  nothing  if  not  fickle,  proceeded 
clandestinely  to  lead  to  the  altar  the  pretty  widow 
of  a  Derbyshire  gentleman  named  Horton.  This 
was  another  blow  to  the  King,  but,  as  we  shall 
see,  still  others  were  in  store. 

In  1772  the  Princess  Dowager,  the  King's  mother, 
died  at  the  age  of  fifty-three.  In  the  midst  of  her 
illness  Augusta  had  been  sorely  afflicted  by  the 
sorrows  and  scandals  which  had  overtaken  her 
family.  She  had  borne  with  pride  and  dignity  all 
the  base  insinuations  launched  for  many  years  by 
her  cavillers  and  libellers ;  but  the  libertinism  of  her 
son  Prince  Henry,  and  his  subsequent  imprudent 
marriage,  the  disgrace  and  deposition  of  her  youngest 
daughter,  the  Danish  Queen,  preyed  on  her  mind 
and  hastened  her  death.  Even  in  her  long  and 
agonising  illness  the  Princess  Dowager's  fortitude  was 
remarkable.  Although  subject  to  frequent  fainting 
spells,  which  were  momentary  respites  from  great 
agony,  and  she  was  frequently  thought  to  have 
expired,  yet  she  would  not  confess  her  illness  even 
to  her  children. 

George  was  unremitting  in  his  devotion  to  his 
mother  from  the  moment  he  learnt  of  her  condi- 
tion. Every  day  saw  him  by  her  side.  Augusta, 
even  in  the  midst  of  her  agony,  played  the  heroic 
but  imprudent  part.  Regularly  she  rose  and  dressed 



herself,  and  on  the  very  evening  before  her  death  de- 
tained her  son  and  her  daughter-in-law  for  no  less 
than  four  hours.  When  they  left  her  she  remarked 
gaily  she  was  sure  she  would  pass  a  tranquil  night. 
By  daybreak  next  morning  the  physician  was  sum- 
moned hastily  to  her  side.  Augusta  saw  in  his  face 
that  her  end  was  now  drawing  near.  "  How  long 
may  I  live  ?  "  she  murmured,  and  then  added,  "  it 
is  no  matter,  for  I  have  nothing  to  say,  nothing  to 
do,  and  nothing  to  leave."  The  last  turned  out  to 
be  true,  for  out  of  her  income  she  had  not  only  paid 
all  her  husband's  large  debts,  but  spent  £10,000 
a  year  on  charities.  Many  mourned  the  loss  of 
a  benefactress.  To-day  the  city  of  Augusta,  in 
Georgia,  is  almost  the  sole  memorial  of  this  virtuous, 
brave,  and  pious  woman's  career. 

Further  distress  was  the  Princess  Dowager  spared 
by  dying  ignorant  of  a  second  clandestine  marriage 
in  the  royal  family.  William  Henry,  Duke  of 
Gloucester,  wedded  Maria,  the  natural  daughter  of 
Sir  Edward  Walpole  and  widow  of  Lord  Walde- 
grave.  William  Henry  was  George's  favourite 
brother,  and  there  were  some  points  of  resemblance 
in  character  between  them.  The  lady  who  captured 
his  affections  had  not  only  a  handsome  person,  but 
had  many  endearing  and  engaging  traits,  and  she 
was  very  ambitious.  When  Waldegrave,  who  was 
old  enough  to  be  her  father,  left  her  a  widow,  she 
received  an  offer  from  the  Duke  of  Portland,  re- 
garded as,  apart  from  the  princes  of  the  blood  royal, 
the  best  match  in  Britain.  Yet  the  mother  of  Lady 
Waldegrave  had  begun  her  career  as  a  milliner ! 

(From  the  Portrait  by  Zincke) 


For  a  long  time  the  connection  between  the 
Duke  of  Gloucester  and  Horace  Walpole's  niece 
was  regarded  merely  as  a  youthful  infatuation,  which 
would  lead  to  nothing  serious.  Not  until  June 
1772  was  it  proclaimed  to  the  world  that  their 
actual  marriage  had  taken  place  nearly  six  years 
before.  The  King  on  receiving  the  letter  from 
his  brother  recognised  at  once  that  the  issue  of  this 
union  must  necessarily  come  within  the  line  of  royal 
succession,  and  consequently  deputed  the  Arch- 
bishop of  Canterbury,  the  Lord  Chancellor,  and 
the  Bishop  of  London  to  inquire  into  the  validity 
of  the  ceremony,  and  to  cause  all  the  corroborative 
evidence  they  could  collect  to  be  entered  on  the 
books  of  the  Privy  Council.  It  appeared  that  there 
had  been  no  witnesses  at  the  marriage,  but,  according 
to  the  custom  of  that  time,  the  solemn  affirmation 
of  the  wedded  parties  made  before  trustworthy 
witnesses  was  considered  as  sufficient  evidence  that 
a  marriage  had  taken  place.  Such  testimony  was 
forthcoming,  and  although  there  were  many  who 
doubted  the  fact,  yet  George  was  convinced  of  the 
legality  of  the  union.  But  he  was  too  angry  to 
consent  to  any  immediate  reconciliation.  "  I  cannot 
deny,"  he  wrote  to  Lord  North,  "  that  on  the  subject 
of  this  Duke  my  heart  is  wounded  :  I  have  ever 
loved  him  with  the  fondness  one  bears  to  a  child." 
He  alluded  to  his  brother's  marriage  as  a  "  highly 
disgraceful  step,"  and  as  to  the  Duchess,  "  I  never 
can  think  of  placing  her  in  a  situation  to  answer  her 
extreme  pride  and  vanity." 

In  his  opinion  his  weak,  good-natured  brother 



had  been  entrapped  into  the  marriage  by  an  am- 
bitious widow  several  years  older  than  himself  and 
the  mother  of  three  children.  He  thought  that 
by  receiving  her  at  Court  and  so  countenancing  a 
mesalliance  he  would  "  be  affronting  all  the  sovereigns 
of  Europe."  Nevertheless  a  reconciliation  ulti- 
mately took  place ;  George  relented,  and  many 
years  afterwards  we  find  him  regarding  his  brother 
and  his  wife,  as  well  as  their  two  children,  Prince 
William  and  Princess  Sophia,  with  much  generosity 
and  even  affection. 

George  was  not  vindictive :  his  displeasure  and 
his  dislikes  were  vehement  while  they  lasted,  but 
they  could  never,  in  a  warm  nature  such  as  his, 
be  inveterate. 




THOUGH  one  of  the  very  ablest  politicians  of  his 
time,  Shelburne,  afterwards  Prime  Minister  and  the 
first  Lord  Lansdowne,  was  a  difficult  and  perverse 
colleague.  So  objectionable  had  he  made  himself 
to  the  Cabinet,  that  his  resignation  in  October  1768 
was  received  with  approval.  On  the  heels  of  this 
Chatham  wrote  to  Grafton,  that  his  weak  and 
broken  state  of  health  continued  to  make  him  so 
entirely  useless  to  the  King's  service  that  he  begged 
George  would  permit  him  to  resign. 

"  May  I  be  allowed,  at  the  same  time,"  he  added, 
"to  offer  to  his  Majesty  my  deepest  sense  of  his 
Majesty's  long,  most  humane,  and  most  gracious 
indulgence  towards  me,  and  to  express  my  ardent 
prayers  for  his  Majesty."  George  felt  the  time 
most  unpropitious  for  Chatham's  nominal  retirement. 
Chatham  was  ill,  but  the  public  did  not  know  how 
ill,  and  his  name  was  still  potent.  "  As  you  entered," 
he  wrote  to  Chatham,  "upon  the  employment  in 
August  1766  at  my  own  requisition,  I  think  I  have  a 
right  to  insist  on  your  remaining  in  my  service  ;  for  I 
with  pleasure  look  forward  to  the  time  of  your  re- 
covery, when  I  may  have  your  assistance  in  resisting 
the  torrent  of  factions  this  country  so  much  labours 



under."  But  Chatham  was  obdurate.  He  felt,  he 
said,  all  chances  of  recovery  would  he  entirely  pre- 
cluded by  his  holding  any  longer  the  Privy  Seal.  At 
present  he  was  totally  disabled.  Under  these  circum- 
stances the  Privy  Seal  was  given  to  Lord  Bristol. 

For  the  next  fifteen  years  American  affairs 
were  to  engage  the  attention  of  the  King  and  his 
Ministers.  Hillsborough,  the  Colonial  Secretary,  de- 
spatched two  regiments,  which  reached  Boston  in 
January  1769,  where  for  a  time  their  presence 
had  a  salutary  effect  in  maintaining  order.  The 
customs  officers  resumed  their  duties,  and  business 
followed  its  usual  channels.  But  although  both  in 
Massachusetts  and  New  York  the  flame  of  treason 
was  stifled,  yet  the  Committees  of  Correspondence, 
which  had  been  established,  continued  to  fan  the 
smouldering  embers. 

In  the  animated  discussions  which  took  place 
in  Parliament  at  the  beginning  of  1769,  Governor 
Pownall,  who  had  filled  offices  in  America,  and 
posed  as  an  authority  on  American  affairs,  under- 
took to  defend  the  proceedings  of  the  Colonists.  | 
He  admitted  that  a  Convention  of  States  would 
have  been  treasonable,  but  that  a  Convention  of 
Committees  was  permissible,  and  indeed  highly 
commendable.  Great  were  the  resources  of  the 
Americans  and  the  facilities  with  which  they  could 
obtain  all  supplies  without  applying  to  Britain. 
"  Do  nothing,"  said  Pownall,  "  which  may  bring  into 
discussion  questions  of  right,  which  must  become 
mere  articles  of  faith.  Go  into  no  innovations  in 
practice,  and  suffer  no  encroachments  on  govern- 


ment.  Extend  not  the  power  which  you  have  of 
imposing  taxes  to  the  laying  internal  taxes  on  the 
Colonies.  Continue  to  exercise  the  power,  which 
you  have  already  exercised,  of  controlling  their 
subsidies,  imposts  and  duties,  but  do  so  with 
prudence  and  moderation,  and  directed  by  the  spirit 
of  commercial  wisdom.  This  spirit  and  mode  of 
government  will  cement  again  that  union  which  is 
shattered,  if  not  quite  broken ;  restore  that  spirit 
of  obedience  which  the  loss  of  authority  on  the 
one  hand,  and  of  affection  on  the  other,  hath  in- 
terrupted ;  and  re-establish  the  authority  as  well  as 
force  of  civil  government,  which  has  almost  lost 
its  force  by  losing  its  authority.  Exert  the  spirit 
of  policy  that  you  may  not  ruin  the  Colonies  and 
yourselves  by  exertions  of  force."1 

This  was  all  very  well  theoretically,  but  civil 
authority  had  to  be  maintained.  The  civil  authority 
in  the  Colonies  was  wholly  unequal  to  the  task  of 
bringing  offenders  to  punishment,  and  some  effectual 
plan  must  be  resorted  to.  Juries  would  not  con- 
vict, no  verdict  against  a  rioter  could  be  secured. 
Bedford  suggested  applying  to  Massachusetts  an  old 
statute  of  Henry  VIII.'s  reign,  by  which  offenders 
outside  the  kingdom  were  liable  to  be  brought  to 
England  for  trial.  But  the  shilly-shallying  of  the 
Government  became  revealed.  They  did  not  really 
propose  to  revive  the  statute ;  no  intention  was 
entertained  to  put  the  Act  into  execution.  The 
proposal  had  merely  been  made  to  frighten  the 
Americans,  merely  to  show  them  what  Government 

1  Parliamentary  History,  xvi.  506—7. 

P  225 


could  do  on  an  emergency.  Such  empty  threats 
very  naturally  angered  the  insurgents.  To  George, 
this  sort  of  behaviour  was  obnoxious  and  incompre- 
hensible ;  threats  and  vaporing  he  despised.  Was 
this  the  "candour  and  temper"  which  he  had  re- 
commended ?  As  Grenville  said  during  a  debate, 
"  There  was  no  medium ;  we  must  either  resolve 
strictly  to  execute  the  Revenue  Laws  in  America, 
or  with  a  good  grace  abandon  our  right  and  repeal 
the  Declaratory  and  Revenue  Laws."  The  Colonists 
denied  all  right  of  taxation  and  all  authority  of 
Parliament.  Both  right  and  authority  King  George 
and  the  people  of  Britain  were  resolved  to  maintain. 
Yet  the  Ministry  went  on  bringing  in  Bills 
further  to  conciliate  the  recalcitrant  Americans. 
Were  the  King's  transatlantic  subjects  still  dis- 
satisfied ?  All  the  new  duties,  except  that  on  tea, 
would  be  abolished.  Grafton  and  Con  way  would 
have  surrendered  even  tea,  but  knowing  George's 
objection  to  the  whole  principle  of  repeal,  North, 
Weymouth,  and  others  thought  to  propitiate  their 
sovereign  by  maintaining  the  tea  duty  as  a  proof 
of  Britain's  right  to  tax  the  Colonies.1  As  Governor 
Bernard  was  not  persona  grata  to  Massachusetts,  he 
was  recalled,  and  Hutchinson,  a  native  American, 
appointed  in  his  place.  As  Boston  had  resented 
troops  being  quartered  upon  them,  one  of  the 

1  In  its  amount,  namely,  threepence  a  pound,  the  tea  duty 
was  not  a  grievance,  for  the  duty  of  one  shilling  paid  in 
England  was  returned  on  re-exportation,  so  that  the  Americans 
could  buy  their  tea  ninepence  per  pound  cheaper  than  in 
England. — Hunt,  Political  History  of  England,  p.  90. 


regiments  was  forthwith  removed.  Thus  did  the 
Ministry  strengthen  the  spirit  of  resistance  and  bring 
the  Empire  into  contempt.  Its  refusal  to  make 
its  concessions  complete  was  due  to  the  King.  A 
complete  surrender  would  have  humiliated  his  realm 
and  himself  in  the  eyes  of  the  world.  "  Whether," 
it  has  been  wisely  said,  "  such  humiliation,  surely 
not  tamely  to  be  accepted  by  a  great  nation,  would 
in  the  end  have  prevented  the  Americans  from  find- 
ing cause  for  quarrel  and  separation  rnay  possibly 
be  matter  for  discussion.  It  is  certainly  not  so 
with  the  policy  of  the  Ministers,  that,  if  it  can  be 
called  a  policy  at  all,  was  clearly  the  worst  they 
could  have  adopted."  * 

While  George's  constitutional  advisers  paltered, 
the  first  of  a  long  series  of  Crown  debts  was  sub- 
mitted to  Parliament.  These  debts  had  been  dis- 
cussed as  if  the  King  were  personally  responsible 
for  them.  As  a  matter  of  fact  no  monarch  was  ever 
more  frugal  or  more  careful  of  expenditure.  He 
objected  to  the  payment  of  even  the  smallest  sum 
if  a  satisfactory  official  explanation  were  not  forth- 





1  Political  History   of  England,   p.    91.     An    American    corre- 
spondent,  writing    as    far    back    as    January    1766,    makes    this 
significant   observation :     "  A    certain    sect    of   people,   if  I    may 
judge    from    their    late    conduct,    seem    to    look    on    this    as    a 
vourable  opportunity  of  establishing  their  Republican  principles, 
and   of  throwing  off  all  connection    with   their   mother-country. 
Many    of  their    publications    justify    the    thought.       Besides,    I 
ve    other   reasons   to   think   that    they    are    not    only   forming 
private    union  among  themselves  from  one  end  of  the  continent 
the  other,  but  endeavouring  also  to  bring   into   their  union 
the    Quakers    and    all    other    Dissenters    if    possible."  —  Sparks, 
ranklin,  vol.   vii.  p.   303. 



coming.  The  deficiency  of  £513,000  in  the  revenue 
of  the  Civil  List  arose  from  the  insufficiency  of  the 
sum  voted  to  the  growing  expenses  of  Govern- 
ment. The  fixed  annual  sum  of  £800,000  which 
had  been  voted  on  George  III.'s  accession  would 
scarce  have  sufficed  for  the  Court  expenses  of 
George  II.  That  a  large  part  of  it  went  in  pensions 
and  presents  is  indisputable.  But  bribes,  rewards, 
and  sinecures,  which  were  liberally  showered  on 
the  friends  of  the  Ministers  in  power,  had  the 
sanction  of  ancient  political  custom ;  nobody  de- 
plored the  practice  more  than  George  himself.  It 
is  well  to  remember  that  if  he  had  had  no  tangible 
as  well  as  titular  rewards  to  bestow,  it  is  difficult 
to  understand  in  that  day  of  corruption  where  he 
would  have  looked  to  for  help  to  govern  his  country. 
It  is  not  an  exaggeration  to  say  that  the  hands 
of  all  were  either  in  the  royal  coffers,  or  struggling 
frantically  to  plunge  them  in.  When,  therefore, 
some  daring  Opposition  members  demanded  that 
Parliament  should  receive  a  detailed  account  of  how 
the  Civil  List  was  spent,  the  impertinent  demand 
was  quickly  suppressed  by  scandalised  legislators  on 
both  sides,  and  the  deficit  was  paid. 

In  proroguing  Parliament,  George,  with  a  view 
to  both  Britain  and  America,  added  these  words : 
"  It  gives  me  great  concern  to  be  obliged  to  re- 
commend to  you,  with  more  than  ordinary  earnest- 
ness, that  you  would  all,  in  your  several  counties, 
exert  your  utmost  efforts  for  the  maintenance  oi 
public  peace  and  good  order.  You  must  be  sensible 
that  whatever  obstructs  the  regular  execution  of 


the  laws,  or  weakens  the  authority  of  the  magistrate, 
must  lessen  the  only  security  my  people  can  have 
for  the  undisturbed  enjoyment  of  their  rights  and 
liberties.  From  your  endeavours  in  this  common 
cause  I  promise  myself  the  most  salutary  effect  ; 
on  my  part  no  countenance  or  support  shall  be 
wanting ;  for  as  I  have  ever  made,  and  ever  shall 
make,  our  excellent  Constitution  the  rule  of  my 
own  conduct,  so  shall  I  always  consider  it  equally 
my  duty  to  exert  every  power  with  which  that 
constitution  has  entrusted  me  for  preserving  it  safe 
from  violations  of  every  kind,  fully  convinced  that 
in  so  doing  I  shall  most  effectually  provide  for  the 
true  interest  and  happiness  of  my  people." 

It  was  not  only  in  Britain  and  America  that 
George  had  to  contend  with  warring  factions,  in- 
subordination, and  violence.  Ireland  was  disgrace- 
fully governed  ;  corruption  abounded.  In  the  hands 
of  what  were  termed  "  Undertakers  "  were  Irish  in- 
terests, men  who  undertook  to  carry  out  the  decrees 
of  the  English  Privy  Council  in  the  Irish  Parliament. 
These  Undertakers  bore  considerable  resemblance 
to  the  Whig  oligarchy  which  had  managed  English 
affairs  at  the  time  of  George's  accession.  Quite  as 
much  as  he  had  deprecated  the  power  of  the  Whig 
oligarchy,  the  King  condemned  the  narrow  rule  of 
the  Irish  faction  which  was  responsible  for  the  mis- 
>vernment  of  the  sister  kingdom.  He  had  approved 

:he  sending   of   the   Marquis    Townshend,    Charles 
Townshend's  brother,  as  Viceroy  in  1767.     Hitherto 

the  Lord-Lieutenant  had  resided  in  Ireland  for  six 
months  every  other  year,  i.e.  during  the  session  of 



the  Irish  Parliament.  Townshend  was  ordered  to 
remain  there  during  his  entire  term  of  office.  An 
Octennial  Act  limited  the  duration  of  the  Irish  Par- 
liament to  eight  years,  a  measure  which  was  well 
received  by  the  Irish  patriotic  party.  Townshend 
laboured  to  overthrow  the  power  of  the  Undertakers. 
It  was  a  hard,  ungrateful  task,  but  in  the  end  he 
succeeded,  at  the  price  of  his  own  happiness  and 
political  prospects. 

About  the  same  time  also  George  was  brought 
face  to  face  with  another  problem  of  magnitude.  He 
had  come  to  regard  the  position  of  the  East  India 
Company  as  anomalous,  and  the  accounts  from  inde- 
pendent sources  which  had  reached  him  from  India 
made  him  desire  its  reform.  There  was  no  doubt 
that  a  great  evil  and  a  great  injustice  did  exist.  A 
commercial  society  had  been  raised  into  a  territorial 
power,  and  instead  of  depending  on  the  native 
princes  for  protection,  or  permission  to  exercise  com- 
merce, the  Company  became  "regulators  of  their 
politics,  and  arbiters  of  their  destiny." 

Maladministration  in  Bengal  had  induced  the 
Company  to  return  Lord  Clive  to  the  seat  of  his 
earlier  triumphs.  Clive  had  reorganised  the  army, 
suppressed  illicit  trade,  and  put  down  a  military 
mutiny.  On  his  return  to  England  early  in  1767 
he  found  the  Government  looking  greedily  on  the 
profits  and  acquisitions  of  the  Company.  George, 
Chatham,  and  Clive  himself  were  agreed  that  the 
Company  had  no  right  to  its  new  position  of  a 
sovereign  power.  The  King  was  firm  in  his  opinion 
that  the  sovereignty  of  the  Crown  over  every  territory 


which  had  been  won  by  British  soldiers  under  the 
British  flag  should  be  asserted.  In  return  for  the 
privileges  which  the  Company  enjoyed,  it  should 
contribute  a  portion  of  its  revenues  to  the  national 

The  justice  of  this  being  admitted,  a  Bill  was 
passed  (1767)  by  which,  in  return  for  the  confirmation 
of  its  territorial  revenues,  the  Company  bound  itself 
to  pay  the  Government  £400,000  a  year  for  two 
years.  When  the  agreement  was  renewed  the  Com- 
pany's territories  were  being  overrun  by  the  redoubt- 
able Hyder  Ali.  Crops  had  failed  in  Bengal,  the 
Company's  stock  had  fallen  sixty  per  cent.,  and  it  was 
£6,000,000  in  debt.  Government  was  applied  to  for 
a  naval  force.  George  himself  went  into  the  matter. 
He  pointed  out  some  legal  objections  to  the  com- 
mission of  the  supervisors,  and  insisted  that  the  naval 
officers  sent  out  by  Government  should  have  un- 
limited power  to  regulate  all  maritime  affairs.  A 
compromise  was  effected,  and  Sir  John  Lindsay  was 
chosen  by  the  King  to  command  the  naval  force 
destined  for  India.  George's  instructions  show  the 
determination  he  harboured  to  lose  no  opportunity  of 
making  the  Indian  native  rulers  realise  that  he,  and 
not  the  Company,  was  the  sovereign  power  in  the 
Company's  territories. 

The  commonest  observer  could  not  deny  that  in 
Britain  the  social  and  political  condition  of  the  people 
was  growing  steadily  worse.  The  Middlesex  election 
served  as  an  excuse  to  formulate  petitions  to  the 
throne.  Much  was  made  at  the  time,  and  has  been 
made  since,  of  these  popular  manifestoes  accusing  the 



Ministers  of  treason.  Westminster  petitioned  that 
Parliament  should  be  dissolved,  and  this  was  also 
urged  by  other  counties  and  boroughs  on  the  grounds 
that  Luttrell,  the  candidate  who  had  replaced  the  ex- 
pelled Wilkes,  had  not  been  properly  elected,  and  that 
his  presence  invalidated  the  whole  legislature.  But 
an  examination  of  the  petitions  shows  that  the  larger 
freeholders  and  better  classes  withheld  their  signa- 
tures ;  the  intelligent  and  law-abiding  had  no  wish  to 
aggravate  the  current  evil.  Seditious  language  be- 
came matter  of  fact.  To  counteract  this  misconduct, 
a  number  of  influential  city  merchants  carried  an 
address  of  loyalty  and  confidence  to  St.  James's. 
It  was  only  a  further  incitement  to  the  mob,  and 
a  scene  of  riotous  commotion  ensued.  By  volleys 
of  filth — verbal  and  material — was  the  procession 
assailed.  "  Everybody,"  wrote  the  Duke  of  Chandos 
to  Grenville,  "was  covered  with  dirt,  and  several 
gentlemen  were  pulled  out  of  their  coaches  by  neck 
and  heels  at  the  palace  gate.  The  Dukes  of  King- 
ston and  Northumberland  had  their  chariots  broke 
to  pieces,  and  their  own  servants'  clothes  spoiled, 
and  some  had  the  impudence  to  sing,  God  save 
great  Wilkes,  our  King.  The  troops  beat  to  arms, 
and  the  guards  were  trebled.  Many  were  greatly 
insulted,  the  mob  coming  up  to  the  muzzles  of  their 
firelocks,  but  it  was  thought  proper  for  them  not 
to  fire."1 

On  the  same  day  the  ingenious  ringleaders  of 
the  mob  devised  a  still  further  most  audacious  insult 
to  their  sovereign.  A  hearse,  drawn  by  four  horses, 

1  Grenville  Papers,  vol.  iv.  p.  41 6. 


appeared  before  the  principal  entrance  of  St.  James's 
Palace.  One  of  the  panels  bore  a  picture  of  soldiers 
shooting  a  youth  named  Allen  in  St.  George's  Fields. 
On  the  other  side  was  depicted  the  death  of  another 
rioter,  killed  during  the  Middlesex  election.  Over- 
head stood  a  man  in  the  guise  of  an  executioner,  with 
a  crape  mask,  supporting  an  axe  in  his  hand.  This 
disgraceful  contrivance  the  mob  endeavoured  to  force 
into  the  courtyard  of  the  palace.  Here  they  were 
foiled  by  a  large  force  of  peace  officers,  hastily 
summoned.  The  Riot  Act  was  read,  and  after  some 
violent  scuffling,  in  which  the  Lord  Steward,  Earl 
Talbot,  himself  laid  hold  of  a  couple  of  the  ring- 
leaders, the  yelling  crowd  prudently  retreated. 
During  the  whole  of  these  scenes  George,  on  Lord 
Holland's  testimony,  remained  perfectly  calm  and 
composed.  "  One  could  not  find  out,  either  in  his 
countenance  or  his  conversation,  that  everything  was 
not  as  quiet  as  usual." 

Of  all  the  violent  attacks  which  were  made  on  the 
Grafton  Ministry  by  the  Press,  the  most  celebrated 
are  those  which  appeared  under  the  signature  of 
"Junius'1  in  the  Public  Advertiser.  There  is  little 
doubt  that  "  Junius "  was  Philip  Francis,  a  clerk  in 
the  War  Office,  and  afterwards  a  member  of  the  East 
India  Council.  In  their  composition  he  probably 
received  the  co-operation  of  Temple.  The  object  of 
"  Junius  "  was  simply  vituperation — to  wound,  in  the 
most  sensitive  parts,  all  those  public  persons  whom 
he  dared  not  openly  assail.  Grafton,  Bedford,  North, 
Weymouth,  Sandwich,  Mansfield,  and  the  King 

i  Russell's  Memorials  of  Fox,  vol.  i.  p.  55. 



himself  were  the  targets  towards   which   he   aimed 
his  envenomed  shafts. 

Simultaneously  with  the  debut  of  "Junius," 
Chatham  dramatically  reappeared.  Since  his  resigna- 
tion his  health  had  undergone  a  miraculous  recovery. 
In  July  1769  the  "great  Earl"  put  in  a  sudden 
appearance  at  the  King's  levee.  George  received 
Chatham  graciously.  He  warmly  congratulated  him 
on  his  recovery  ;  and  on  the  breaking  up  of  the  levee, 
whispered  to  him  to  follow  him  into  his  closet. 
"  There,"  records  Chatham,  "  his  Majesty  again  con- 
descended to  express  in  words  of  infinite  goodness 
the  satisfaction  it  gave  him  to  see  me  recovered,  as 
well  as  the  regret  his  Majesty  felt  at  my  retiring 
from  his  service." 

In  the  judgment  of  the  late  Minister,  here  was 
a  propitious  occasion  to  awaken  the  King  into  a 
"  just  sense  of  his  peril."  That  George  needed  any 
awakening  does  not  to  us,  we  confess,  seem  clear. 
Chatham  told  him  that  he  disapproved  of  Grafton's 
policy ;  in  fact,  he  disapproved  of  all  that  had 
been  done  since  his  resignation.  Everything  was 
wrong.  George  asked  his  dissatisfied  subject  what 
measures  he  himself  would  propose.  Chatham  re- 
torted in  vague  euphemistic  platitudes,  and  finally 
remarked  that  he  would  consult  his  brothers-in-law, 
Temple  and  Grenville.  If  the  Earl  had  drawn  out 
his  sword  and  flourished  it  he  could  hardly  have  ex- 
cited greater  surprise  and  alarm.  Temple  and  Gren- 
ville again  !  Were  not  the  relations  between  the  three; 
brothers-in-law  openly  hostile  ?  Did  not  their  political! 
views  widely  diverge  ?  Yet  here  was  another  "  family! 


connexion  "  thrown  at  George's  head  once  more.  He 
could  hardly  contain  himself ;  it  taxed  all  his  powers 
of  self-control.  After  an  embarrassing  pause  the 
subject  of  conversation  was  diverted.  Chatham  was 
bowed  out,  and  personal  interviews  between  the  King 
and  Earl  Facing-both-ways  were  things  of  the  past ! 
Chatham  flew  straightway  to  his  brother-in-law  at 
Stowe.  "  Lord  Chatham,"  writes  Burke  to  his  friend 
and  patron  Rockingham,  "  passed  by  my  door  on 
Friday  morning  in  a  jimwhiskee  drawn  by  two 
horses,  one  before  the  other.  He  drove  himself. 
His  train  was  two  coaches  and  six,  with  twenty 
servants,  male  and  female.  He  was  proceeding  with 
his  whole  family — Lady  Chatham,  two  sons  and  two 
daughters — to  Stowe.  He  lay  at  Beaconsfield ;  was 
well  and  cheerful,  and  walked  up  and  down  stairs 
at  the  inn  without  help." 

The  news  of  the  coalition  was  received  by  Op- 
position with  much  glee.  The  King  was  once  more 
in  their  power.  With  Chatham,  Temple,  and  Gren- 
ville  was  allied  the  Rockinghams.  Parliament  were 
again  to  meet  at  the  beginning  of  1770,  the  same 
Parliament  which  Chatham  swore  "  must,  it  shall  be 
dissolved  "  !  He  was  (in  his  own  words)  "  high  in 
spirits "  and  "  high  in  fury." 

Two  days  before   the  meeting  George  wrote  to 
i     North,  "  I   am  so  desirous  that  every  man  in  my 
service  should  take  part  in  the  debate  on  Tuesday, 
that    I    desire   you  will  very  strongly  press   Sir  G. 
£     Elliot  and  any  others  that  have  not  taken  part  last 
i      session.     I  have  no  objection  to  your  adding  that  I 
have  particularly  directed  you  to  speak  to  them." 



No  strict  constitutionalist  can  blink  the  fact  that  only 
a  very  grave  crisis  in  the  national  affairs  could  justify 
such  a  direct  interposition.  The  crisis  was  grave. 
The  kingdom  had  to  be  saved  not  only  from  itself, 
but  from  those  charlatans  who  were  labouring  night 
and  day  to  plunge  it  into  revolution.  In  his  speech 
George  observed  that  the  great  burthens  already  im- 
posed on  his  subjects  by  the  necessity  of  bringing 
the  late  war  to  a  prosperous  conclusion,  made  him 
vigilant  to  prevent  the  present  disturbances  in  Europe 
from  extending  to  those  places  where  the  security, 
honour,  and  interest  of  his  kingdom  might  make  it 
necessary  for  him  to  become  a  party.  He  had  great 
hopes  of  maintaining  the  country  in  peace.  The  dis- 
satisfactions still  prevailing  in  America  were  to  be 
regretted,  and  the  combinations  tending  to  destroy 
the  commercial  connection  between  the  Colonies  and 
the  Mother  Country.  Avoid  heats  and  animosities, 
he  said :  cultivate  a  spirit  of  harmony ;  which  will, 
above  all  things  contribute  to  maintain,  in  their 
proper  lustre,  the  strength,  reputation,  and  prosperity 
of  the  country  and  strengthen  the  attachment  of 
the  subject  to  that  excellent  constitution  of  govern- 
ment from  which  they  derived  such  distinguished 
advantages." l 

Chatham's  charlatanry — there  is  no  other  word 
was  never  more  palpably  shown  than  on  his  appeal 
ance    at    the    opening    of    Parliament.      The    mo 
followed  him  with  vociferation,  for  was  not  the  great 
Earl  going  to  pull  the  King  down  from  his  throne  ? 
While     utmost     excitement     prevailed,     Chatham 

1  Parliamentary  History,  xvi.  pp.  64-3-4. 



swathed  in  flannel  and  supported  on  crutches, 
although  the  testimony  is  that  he  had  not  looked 
better  for  years,  rose  theatrically  in  his  place. 
Advanced,  he  said,  as  he  was  in  age  and  bowed 
down  with  the  weight  of  infirmities  —  it  may  here 
be  interpolated  that  he  was  just  sixty-one,  and 
that  he  was  fresh  from  a  round  of  country-house 
visits — he  might  have  been  excused  had  he  clung 
to  retirement  and  never  again  taken  a  part  in 
public  affairs.  But,  he  went  on,  the  alarming  state 
of  the  nation  forced  him  once  more  to  come  for- 
ward and  execute  that  duty  which  he  owed  to  his 
God,  his  sovereign,  and  his  country,  and  which  he 
was  determined  to  perform  at  the  hazard  of  his 
life.  Of  course  he  anathematised  the  peace  of 
1763,  because  his  sovereign  had  gone  far  to  make 
it.  Britain  was  now  without  the  support  of  a  single 
ally.  But  however  important  might  be  the  considera- 
tion of  foreign  affairs,  the  domestic  situation  of 
the  country  demanded  still  greater  attention.  He 
lamented  the  unhappy  measures  which  had  divided 
the  Colonies  from  Great  Britain,  and  which  he  feared 
had  drawn  them  into  unjustifiable  excesses.  But  he 
could  not  concur  in  calling  their  proceedings  unwar- 
rantable ;  to  use  such  an  expression  was  passing  sen- 
tence without  hearing  the  cause,  or  being  acquainted 
with  the  facts.  The  discontent  of  two  millions 
of  people  deserved  consideration.  The  foundation 
of  it  should  be  removed ;  but  we  should  be  cautious 
how  we  invaded  the  liberties  of  any  part  of  our 
fellow-subjects,  however  remote  in  situation,  or 
unable  to  make  resistance.  The  Americans  had 



purchased  their  liberty  at  a  dear  rate,  since  they 
had  quitted  their  native  land  and  gone  to  seek  it 
in  a  desert.  There  never  was  a  time  when  the 
unanimity  recommended  by  the  King  was  more 
necessary ;  and  it  was  the  duty  of  the  House  to 
inquire  into  the  causes  of  the  notorious  dissatisfac- 
tion expressed  by  the  whole  English  nation,  to 
state  them  to  their  sovereign,  and  to  give  him 
their  best  advice  in  what  manner  he  ought  to  act. 
The  privileges  of  the  House  of  Lords,  however 
transcendant,  however  appropriate  to  them,  stood, 
in  fact,  on  the  broad  bottom  of  the  people.  The 
rights  of  the  greatest  and  meanest  subjects  had 
the  same  foundation — the  security  of  the  law, 
common  to  all.  It  was  therefore  their  highest 
interest,  as  well  as  their  duty,  to  watch  over  and 
guard  the  people ;  for  when  the  people  had  lost 
their  rights,  those  of  the  peerage  would  soon  be- 
come insignificant.  "  Be  assured,  my  Lords,"  he 
continued,  "  that  in  whatever  part  of  the  Empire 
you  suffer  slavery  to  be  established,  whether  it  be 
in  America,  in  Ireland,  or  at  home,  you  will  find 
it  a  disease  which  spreads  by  contact,  and  soon 
reaches  from  the  extremities  to  the  heart.  The 
man  who  had  lost  his  own  freedom  becomes  from 
that  moment  as  instrument,  in  the  hands  of  an 
ambitious  prince,  to  destroy  the  freedom  of  others." 
The  liberty  of  the  subject  was  invaded,  not  only 
in  the  provinces  but  at  home.  The  people  were 
loud  in  their  complaints,  and  would  never  return 
to  a  state  of  tranquillity  till  they  obtained  redress : 
nor  ought  they  ;  for  it  were  better  to  perish  in  a 


glorious  contention  for  their  rights,  than  to  purchase 
a  slavish  tranquillity  at  the  expense  of  a  single 
iota  of  the  constitution.  He  had  no  doubt  the 
universal  discontent  of  the  nation  arose  from  the 
proceedings  against  Wilkes,  and  therefore  moved  an 
amendment  to  the  address,  to  the  effect  that  "  the 
House  would  with  all  convenient  speed  take  into 
consideration  the  causes  of  the  prevailing  discontent, 
and  particularly  the  proceedings  of  the  House  of 
Commons  touching  the  incapacity  of  John  Wilkes, 
thereby  refusing  (by  a  resolution  of  one  branch  of 
the  legislature  only)  to  the  subject  his  common 
right,  and  depriving  the  electors  of  Middlesex  of 
their  free  choice  of  a  representative." 

Chatham's  speech  lets  a  flood  of  light  on  the 
arguments  of  that  day.  "  The  constitution  of  the 
country,"  he  continued,  "  has  been  openly  invaded  in 
fact ;  and  I  have  heard  with  horror  and  astonish- 
ment that  invasion  defended  upon  principle.  What 
is  this  mysterious  power,  undefined  by  law,  un- 
known to  the  subject,  which  we  must  not  approach 
without  leave,  nor  speak  of  without  reverence, 
which  no  man  may  question,  and  to  which  all  men 
must  submit  ?  I  thought  the  slavish  doctrine  of 
passive  obedience  had  long  since  been  exploded; 
and,  when  our  kings  were  obliged  to  confess  their 
title  to  the  crown,  and  the  rule  of  their  government 
had  no  other  foundation  than  the  known  laws  of 
the  land,  I  never  expected  to  hear  a  divine  right, 
or  a  divine  infallibility,  attributed  to  any  other 
branch  of  the  legislature.  Power  without  right  is 
the  most  odious  and  detestable  object  that  can  be 



offered  to  the  human  imagination ;  it  is  not  only 
pernicious  to  those  who  are  subject  to  it,  but  tends 
to  its  own  destruction." 

Chatham's  rhodomontade  was  well  answered  by 
Mansfield.  But  Chatham  was  again  on  his  feet  with 
a  declamation  against  the  "  slavish  "  House  of  Com- 
mons. He  exhorted  his  brother  Peers  to  imitate 
the  glorious  example  of  "  their  ancestors,  the  iron 
Barons  of  Magna  Charta,"  and  defend  the  rights 
of  the  people.  One  may  be  permitted  to  wonder 
how  many  of  the  Peers  he  addressed  could  trace 
their  ancestry  back  more  than  two  hundred  years. 
This  perfervid  exhortation  had  one  striking,  though 
disgraceful,  effect.  The  Lord  Chancellor  was  so 
moved  that  he  decided  to  throw  in  his  fortunes 
with  Chatham.  Camden's  colleagues  had  already 
suspected  him  of  lukewarm  loyalty  to  the  policy 
they  were  trying  to  carry  out,  but  they  were  cer- 
tainly not  prepared  at  this  crisis  for  a  traitor  in 
their  camp.  "I  accepted,"  cried  Camden,  "the 
Great  Seal  without  conditions ;  I  meant  not  there- 
fore to  be  trammelled  by  his  Majesty — /  beg 
pardon,  by  his  Ministers ;  but  I  have  suffered  my- 
self to  be  so  too  long.  For  some  time  I  have 
beheld  with  silent  indignation  the  arbitrary  measures 
of  the  Ministers.  I  have  often  drooped  and  hung 
down  my  head  in  Council,  and  disapproved,  by  my 
looks,  those  steps  which  I  knew  my  avowed  opposi- 
tion could  not  prevent.  I  will  do  so  no  longer, 
but  openly  and  boldly  speak  my  sentiments."  The 
Ministry,  by  their  violence  and  tyrannical  conduct, 

1  Parliamentary" Jdistory. 


had  alienated  the  minds  of  the  people  from  his 
Majesty's  Government — he  had  almost  said,  from 
his  Majesty's  person ;  and  in  consequence,  a  spirit 
of  discontent  had  spread  itself  into  every  corner  of 
the  kingdom,  and  was  every  day  increasing ;  and 
if  some  methods  were  not  devised  to  appease  the 
clamours  so  universally  prevalent,  he  did  not  know 
but  the  people,  in  despair,  might  become  their  own 
avengers,  and  take  the  redress  of  grievances  into 
their  own  hands.  In  fine,  Camden  did  not  scruple 
to  accuse  the  Ministry,  though  not  in  express 
terms,  yet  by  direct  implication,  of  having  formed  a 
conspiracy  against  the  liberties  of  their  country. 

Chatham's  amendment  was  defeated  in  the  Lords 
by  203  to  36,  and  in  the  Commons,  after  a  twelve 
hours'  debate,  by  254  to  138.  After  Camden's 
indecent  avowal  one  would  have  expected  his 
resignation.  As  it  appeared  he  had  no  intention 
of  resigning,  the  King  dismissed  him  from  office  a 
week  later.  The  Marquis  of  Granby  resigned  the 
command  of  the  Army,  and  Dunning  the  Solicitor- 
Generalship.  Such  resignations,  of  course,  sadly 
embarrassed  the  Government.  A  successor  to 
Camden  was  not  easily  found.  To  many  it  seemed 
that,  in  Temple's  words,  "  the  Ministry  was  shattered 
in  a  most  miserable  manner,  and  in  all  likelihood 
would  soon  fall  to  pieces."  According  to  Shelburne, 
after  the  worthy  Camden's  dismissal  the  Great  Seal 
would  go  a-begging.  He  amiably  added  that  "he 
hoped  there  would  not  be  found  in  the  kingdom  a 
wretch  sufficiently  base  and  mean-spirited  to  accept  it 
under  such  conditions  as  would  satisfy  the  Ministry," 

Q  241 


To  one  of  the  most  painful  episodes  in  the  King's 
career  did  this  situation  give  rise.  The  Great  Seal 
was  offered  to  Charles  Yorke,  son  of  the  late  Lord 
Chancellor  Hardwicke.  Twice  had  he  filled  the  office 
of  Attorney- General,  and  although  not  a  strong 
man,  enjoyed  a  reputation  for  talents  and  integrity. 
Like  Mansfield  and  Eardley  Wilmot,  Yorke  felt  the 
moment  unpropitious  for  accepting  office.  He  was 
restless  and  morbid ;  his  health  was  precarious. 
Having  told  his  friend  Rockirigham  that  he  would 
not  accept  the  post,  he  promptly  declined  Grafton's 
offer.  George  now  intervened  from  a  sense  of  duty. 
Recognising  the  predicament  in  which  his  Ministers 
stood,  he  sent  personally  for  Yorke.  At  first  Yorke 
proved  intractable.  He  would  not  "  desert  his  party." 
At  a  second  interview  in  the  royal  closet  he  admitted 
that  the  Great  Seal  was  the  highest  object  of  his 
ambition,  and  it  was  plain  that  he  only  rejected  it 
because  he  believed  the  Ministry  was  tottering  to  its 
fall.  George's  arguments  being  exhausted,  he  plainly 
told  Yorke  that  if  he  then  refused  the  seals  they 
should  not  again  be  offered  to  him,  whatever  changes 
might  ultimately  take  place  in  the  Government. 
At  that  moment  the  utmost  danger  and  degradation 
threatened  the  throne,  and  it  was  the  duty  of  every 
man  who  hoped  to  serve  his  King  to  rally  round  him 
now  in  his  distress.  Yorke  could  no  longer  hold  out. 
He  accepted  the  Great  Seal,  and  kissed  hands  as  Lord 
Chancellor  of  Britain.  Straightway  to  his  brother's 
house  he  went ;  weak  and  irresolute,  the  sight  of 
the  Opposition  leaders  gathered  there  smote  him 
with  remorse.  Not  improbably,  the  new  honour  and 


the  peculiar  manner  in  which  it  was  conferred  had 
turned  his  brain.  A  sudden  fever  seized  him :  he 
emptied  a  decanter  of  spirits,  and  in  three  days  was 
dead.  The  current  belief  was,  and  it  is  only  too 
probable,  that  he  died  by  his  own  hand.  At  the 
moment  of  his  death  there  lay  on  a  table  near  by 
the  patent  which  was  to  have  created  him  Baron 
Morden.  "  When  my  poor  brother,"  writes  Lord 
Hardwicke,  "  was  asked  if  the  sea]  should  be  put  to 
it,  he  waived  it  and  said  that  he  hoped  it  was  no 
longer  in  his  custody." 

After  the  tragic  death  of  Yorke  there  was 
nothing  for  it  but  to  put  the  Great  Seal  in 
commission.  Mansfield  was  appointed  Speaker  of 
the  House  of  Lords  till  another  Chancellor  could 
be  found.  The  times  were  indeed  unpropitious. 

Amidst  all  the  resignations,  the  plotting  and  un- 
rest, Rockingham,  following  in  Chatham's  footsteps, 
moved  in  the  House  of  Lords  to  consider  the  state  of 
the  nation.     The  present  unhappy  condition  of  affairs 
and  universal  discontent  of  the  people,  he  said,  did 
not  arise  from  any  immediate  temporary  cause,  but 
had   grown   by   degrees   from   the   moment    of    his 
Majesty's  accession.     The  persons  in  whom  the  King 
then  confided  had  introduced  a  total  change  in  the 
i    old  system  of  government,  and  adopted  a   maxim 
which    must    prove    fatal    to    the    liberties    of   the 
1    country,  namely,  that  the  royal  prerogative  alone  was 
s    sufficient  to  support  Government,  to  whatever  hands 
,f    it  might  be  committed.     All  the  acts  of  Government 
n    from  the   beginning  of  the  reign  wrere   ascribed  to 
d    the  prevalence  of  that  principle.     In  Rockingham's 



opinion  the  peace  was   a   blunder.     Britain   should 
have  gone  on  fighting. 

Graf  ton  began  well.  Even  if  the  terms  of 
peace  were  not  so  good  as  the  nation  had  a  right 
to  expect,  he  would  never  advise  the  King  to  engage 
in  another  war  as  long  as  the  dignity  of  the  Crown, 
and  the  real  interests  of  the  nation,  could  be  pre- 
served without  it.  Britain  had  already  suffered  suffi- 
ciently by  foreign  connections  to  warn  her  against 
engaging  lightly  in  quarrels  in  which  she  had  no 
immediate  concern,  and  to  which  she  might  prob- 
ably sacrifice  her  own  most  essential  interests. 

The  tone  of  this  speech  was,  however,  far  from 
satisfactory.  A  further  embarrassment  was  prepar- 
ing for  the  King.  Grafton  had  all  along  been  but  a 
slender  reed,  but  before  the  invectives  of  Chatham 
and  "  Junius "  he  became  invertebrate.  He  bent 
before  the  storm ;  he  abandoned  what  he  believed  to 
be  a  sinking  ship.  On  the  28th  January,  only  a 
week  after  the  tragedy  of  Charles  Yorke,  Grafton 
resigned  office,  and  left  his  sovereign  to  flounder  out 
of  his  difficulties  as  best  he  could. 

To   see   his   policy    of  the   last   ten   years   thus 
brought  to  the  brink  of  ruin  would  have  completely  | 
discouraged  a  weaker  man  than  King  George.     One 
after   another  his  Ministers  had  failed.     They   had: 
failed   either  to   conciliate   their   King   on   the  one 
hand,  or  the  people  on  the  other.     Tt  must  not  be! 
considered    merely    a    contest    for    power    between 
George  and  the  professional  politicians  of  the  day; 
it  should  rather  be  deemed  a  contest  between  the 
King  as  representative  of  law  and  order  and  good 


government,  as  against  ambition,  insubordination, 
and  sedition.  A  change  of  Ministry  would  mean  a 
dissolution  of  Parliament ;  a  new  Parliament  might 
precipitate  a  revolution.  It  would  mean  the  triumph 
of  faction  and  disorder.  Chatham  denounced  peace  ; 
he  applauded  the  conduct  of  rebels,  whether  in 
Britain  or  America,  and  he  swore  he  would  have  a 
dissolution.  Sooner  than  consent  to  a  dissolution 
at  this  juncture,  George  told  Conway  he  would 
abdicate  his  throne.  "  Yes,"  he  exclaimed,  laying 
his  hand  upon  his  sword,  "  I  will  have  recourse  to 
this  sooner  than  yield  to  a  dissolution  ! " 

No  man  can  look  back  to  that  period  without  a 
perception  that  George  in  his  estimate  of  its  menac- 
ing character,  menacing  not  only  to  the  throne, 
but  to  the  peace  and  prosperity  of  Britain,  was  amaz- 
ingly just.  Mirabeau  and  Chatham,  Robespierre  and 
Temple,  Danton  and  Wilkes,  do  we  not  see  them 
h  in  their  epochs,  with  their  fiery  philippics  and 
eir  extravagant  gestures,  deriding  peace,  laughing 
yalty  out  of  court,  drunk  with  the  applause  of  the 
ob,  encouraging  vituperation,  and  egging  on  the 
nzied  democrats  and  incendiaries  in  all  parts  of  the 
,1m  ?  They  could  bear  it  light-heartedly  enough, 
action  was  the  rarest  sport  to  them.  Chatham's 
eelings  in  particular  were  exuberant.  In  the  midst 
of  rage  and  tumult  he  could  write  to  an  utter  stranger 
who  had  sent  him  a  pipe  of  port :  "A  pipe  of  true 
port  is  a  matter  of  no  small  consequence  to  a  gouty 
exagenaire  ;  welcome  indeed,"  he  added,  "  was  wine 
f  the  best  growth." 

Temple  sneered  and  Grenville  pettifogged  ;  Shel- 



burne  hatched  plots  and  Grafton  coquetted  with  his 
mistresses.  One  man  alone  was  deeply  serious.  On 
his  shoulders  at  this  moment  lay  the  real  burden  of 
government,  the  real  cares  of  state.  Still  gloating 
was  the  phalanx  of  the  Opposition  when  George  sent 
for  Lord  North.  This  sending  for  North  marks  the 
turning  point  in  the  tide.  The  ten  years'  struggle 
was  over,  and  the  King  had  won.  "  Great  as  was  the 
difficulty,  the  danger  even,"  says  Walpole,  "North 
did  not  hesitate,  but  plunged  into  the  danger  at 
once."  On  the  5th  February  1770  he  was  gazetted 
First  Lord  of  the  Treasury,  while  retaining  his  post 
of  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer.  And  as  such  he 
continued  for  more  than  twelve  eventful  years. 




THE  new  Prime  Minister  shared  the  King's  dislike 
and  distrust  of  Demos  and  his  satellites.  "  I  am 
not  an  ambitious  man,"  said  he  in  one  of  his  Parlia- 
mentary speeches ;  "  a  man  may  be  popular  without 
being  ambitious,  but  there  is  rarely  an  ambitious 
man  who  does  not  try  to  be  popular." 

"  North,"  wrote  a  shrewd  observer,  "  afterwards 
succeeded  in  what  I  believe  he  himself  and  every 
man  in  the  kingdom  at  that  time  thought  a  forlorn 

Opposition  at  first  could  not  believe  they  were 
beaten.  The  Grenville  and  Buckingham  factions 
heaped  derision  upon  the  new  Minister.  So  ingenious 
was  their  undermining,  so  fierce  their  oratorical 
artillery,  that  they  were  convinced  the  King  and 
North  would  be  obliged  to  succumb.  "  If  our 
friends  stand  firm,"  wrote  Calcraft  to  Chatham,  "  all 
is  over  with  them."  "  Now  is  the  crisis,"  remarked 
Junius  "  ;  "I  have  no  doubt  we  shall  conquer  them 
at  last." 

Unluckily  for  their  hopes  already  the  tide  had 
:urned  in  the  King's  favour,  and  it  was  soon  flowing 
dth  a  vengeance.  The  people  of  England,  not  for 
;ver  to  be  duped,  were  rallying  round  their  sovereign 



The  attacks  he  had  suffered  from  the  more  violent 
section,  the  letter  of  "  Junius"  to  the  King,  the  rude 
behaviour  of  the  city,  the  insulting  innuendoes, 
excited  general  displeasure.  The  "  secret  and  malign 
influence "  to  which  the  Opposition  were  making 
perpetual  reference  was  seen  to  be  baseless.  The 
members  of  Parliament  who  were  charged  with 
being  the  "  King's  friends  " — "  backstairs  influence 
and  clandestine  Government" — openly  avowed  that 
they  voted  in  accordance  with  the  King's  known 
personal  wishes,  first  and  foremost  because  they 
placed  the  utmost  reliance  in  the  King's  integrity 
and  judgment,  and  because  they  placed  no  reliance 
at  all  on  the  integrity  and  judgment  of  the  Whig 
oligarchy.  A  further  impetus  to  the  tide  was  fur- 
nished by  the  City  of  London.  As  far  back  as  the 
previous  July  they  had  drawn  up  a  petition  based 
on  that  of  the  Middlesex  petition,  couched  in  insolent 
language.  It  began  :— 

"  We,   your    Majesty's   most    dutiful   and   loyal 
subjects,  the  Livery  of  the  City  of  London,  with  all 
the  humility  which  is  due  from  free  subjects  to  their 
lawful  sovereign :  but  with  all  the  anxiety  which  the 
sense  of  this  present  oppression  and  the  just  dread 
of  future   mischief  .  .  .  and  from   the  secret   unre- 
mitting influence   of  the    worst   of  counsellors."     It 
then  went  on  to  speak  of  "  the  desperate  attempts 
which   have   been,  and  are   too   successfully,   made 
to  destroy  that  constitution,  to  the  spirit  of  which  i 
we  owe  the  relation   which  subsists  between  your  j 
Majesty  and  the   subjects   of  these  realms,  and  to 
subvert  those  sacred  laws  which  our  ancestors  have  j 


sealed  with  their  blood."  A  long  list  of  grievances 
was  enumerated :  the  general  warrants ;  invasion  of 
the  right  of  trial  by  jury ;  the  evading  of  the 
Habeas  Corpus ;  imprisonment  without  trial ;  employ- 
ment of  military  force  ;  the  "  screening  more  than 
one  murderer  from  justice  " ;  Colonial  taxation,  &c. 
Finally,  after  "  having  insulted  and  defeated  the 
law  on  different  occasions  and  by  different  con- 
trivances, both  at  home  and  abroad,  they  (the 
Ministers)  have  at  length  completed  their  design,  by 
violently  wresting  from  the  people  the  last  sacred 
right  we  had  left,  the  right  of  election,  by  the 
unprecedented  seating  of  a  candidate  notoriously  set 
up  and  chosen  by  themselves.  All  this  they  have 
effected  by  corruption ;  by  a  scandalous  misappli- 
cation and  embezzlement  of  the  public  treasure, 
and  a  shameful  prostitution  of  public  honours." 

This  unprecedented  appeal  contained  in  every 
line  something  offensive.  It  harangued  the  King 
on  what  the  Liverymen  considered  were  his  duties, 
arid  George  properly  resolved  to  take  no  notice 
of  it.  After  many  months  it  appeared  to  be  for- 
gotten, but  in  March  1770,  on  the  eve  of  Wilkes's 
release,  it  was  suddenly  discovered  that  the  King's 
silence  was  a  gross  indignity  offered  to  the  city. 
The  King  must  be  pressed  for  an  answer ;  so 
three  very  formidable  instruments  were  drawn  up, 
called  "  The  Address,  Remonstrance,  and  Petition 
of  the  City  of  London."  The  Remonstrance 
purported  to  be  a  serious  expostulation  with  George 
for  his  neglect  of  the  wishes  of  his  subjects.  The 
two  sheriffs  undertaking  the  office  of  carrying  it 



to  Court,  they  attended  on  the  6th  of  March,  but 
were  unsuccessful  in  seeing  the  King.  George  caused 
them  to  be  informed  that  "  It  was  an  improper  time, 
and  that  the  Court  days  were  the  time  they  ought  to 
deliver  any  message.  I  wish,"  he  added,  writing  to  the 
Secretary  of  State,  "  you  would  obtain  the  opinion 
of  Lord  Mansfield  whether  they  can  be  with  pro- 
priety received."  To  decline  "would  be  the  most 
likely  way  of  putting  an  end  to  this  stiiff"  George 
estimated  the  efforts  of  the  city  demagogues  at  their 
true  worth. 

But  the  next  day  the  irrepressible  sheriffs  again 
presented  themselves  to  know  what  day  the  King 
would  appoint  to  hear  them.  At  the  close  of  the 
levee  they  were  admitted  to  the  closet,  when  one 
of  the  sheriffs,  a  dangerous  firebrand,  addressed 
the  King,  explaining  that  they  had  taken  the 
earliest  opportunity  to  wait  on  him,  "  but  being 
prevented  by  one  of  the  Household,  who  informed  j 
them  that  his  Majesty  could  not  receive  them. 
They  now  desired  to  know  when  it  would  be  con- 
venient." To  this  George  replied,  "  As  the  case  is 
entirely  new,  I  will  take  time  to  consider  it,  and 
transmit  you  my  answer." 

A  week  passed ;  the  city  drew  up  yet  another 
precious  "  remonstrance."     An  enormous  party,  com- 
prising two  hundred  persons,  with  Beckford  at  their 
head,  invaded  the  palace.     This  time  they  had  been 
adroitly  coached  by  Wilkes  and  Home.     They  said; 
they    again   addressed    themselves    to    "  the   father' 
of  his  people,"  and  repeated  their  application  with; 
greater  propriety,  because  "we  see  the  instruments 


of  our  wrongs  particularly  distinguished  by  your 
Majesty's  bounty  and  favour.  Under  the  same 
secret  and  malign  influence,  the  House  of  Commons 
has  deprived  them  of  their  rights."  They  then 
reminded  the  King  of  what  he  owed  to  them, 
with  many  references  to  the  glorious  Revolution, 
and  veiled  menaces  as  to  what  would  happen  if 
the  King  forgot  that  lesson.  So  confused  and 
faltering  did  the  Common  Serjeant  become  over 
these  passages,  that  the  Town  Clerk  snatched  the 
paper  from  him  and  continued  the  reading. 

Calmly  did  George  listen  to  all  this ;  his 
reply  was  dignified  and  severe.  He  was  much 
concerned,  he  said,  to  have  to  listen  to  language 
that  was  disrespectful  to  him,  injurious  to  his 
Parliament,  and  irreconcilable  to  the  constitution. 
"  I  have  always  made  the  law  of  the  land  my 
guide,  and  have  never  invaded  any  of  the  powers 
of  the  constitution."  It  was  impossible  to  over- 
look such  insolence.  A  few  days  later  Sir  Thomas 
Clavering  moved  in  the  House  of  Commons,  "  That 
to  deny  the  legality  of  the  present  Parliament,  and 
to  assert  that  the  proceedings  thereof  are  not  valid, 
is  highly  unwarrantable,  and  has  a  manifest  ten- 
dency to  disturb  the  peace  of  the  kingdom  by  with- 
drawing his  Majesty's  subjects  from  their  obedience 
to  the  laws  of  the  realm."  Whereupon  Beckford 
and  the  other  city  members  rose  in  their  places, 
and  gloried  in  what  they  had  done,  offering  to  take 
all  the  consequences.  The  motion  was  carried,  but 
nothing  was  done.  A  fresh  attack  was  planned  on 
the  King,  and  Chatham  came  forward  in  the  House 



of  Lords  to  aid  and  abet  his  wealthy  and  over- 
zealous  city  friend,  Beckford.  He  moved  an  address 
in  the  Lords  praying  for  a  dissolution.  The  city 
voted  a  similar  address,  and  Beckford  himself  offered 
to  present  it  to  the  King. 

On  May  23rd  a  long  procession  set  out  from  the 
city.  George,  seated  on  his  throne,  received  the 
deputation.  Having  previously  seen  the  paper,  he 
privately  admitted  it  was  "  less  offensive  "  than  he 
had  anticipated.  He  determined  that  the  whole 
"  performance  "  should  receive  "  a  short,  dry  answer  " 
— referring  the  deputation  to  the  answer  they  had  re- 
ceived already.  Beckford  duly  came  forward  and  read 
his  address,  referring  to  "the  awful  censure "  passed 
on  them  in  the  King's  reply,  and  the  secret  machina- 
tions which  prompted  it.  "  But,"  said  he,  "  they 
were  determined  to  abide  by  the  rights  and 
liberties "  their  fathers  gained  at  the  Revolution, 
and  demanded  once  more  the  dissolution  of  Parlia- 
ment, and  the  removal  of  "  evil  Ministers." 

George  gazed  at  his  unruly  subject  steadily  for 
a  moment  and  then  made  reply :  "I  should  have 
been  wanting  to  the  public,  as  well  as  to  myself, 
if  I  had  not  expressed  my  dissatisfaction  at  the 
late  address.  My  sentiments  on  that  subject  con- 
tinue the  same ;  and  I  should  ill  deserve  to  be 
considered  as  the  father  of  my  people  if  I  should 
suffer  myself  to  be  prevailed  upon  to  make  such 
an  use  of  my  prerogative  as  I  cannot  but  think 
inconsistent  with  the  interest  and  dangerous  to  the 
constitution  of  the  kingdom." 

It  was  expected  that  the  deputation  would  now 


kiss  hands  and  withdraw.  But  this  was  not  part  of 
the  conspirators'  plan.  A  reply  was  to  be  made  to 
the  King's  reply.  The  sovereign  was  still  on  the 
throne,  when  Beckford,  instead  of  "  backing  out," 
abruptly  stepped  forward  and  ejaculated,  according 
to  one  account,  "  with  great  presence  of  mind  and 
fluency  of  language  "  : 

"  Most  gracious  sovereign  !  " 

The  King  started.  He  saw  before  him  a  stout, 
apoplectic  man  struggling  in  vain  with  speech. 
Most  of  it  was  inaudible,  but  the  King  listened 
patiently  to  the  end.  Beckford's  conclusion  was  in 
some  such  language  as  this : 

"Permit  me,  sire,  to  observe,  that  whoever  has 
already  dared,  or  shall  hereafter  endeavour,  by  false 
insinuations  and  suggestions,  to  alienate  your 
Majesty's  affections  from  your  loyal  subjects  in 
general,  and  from  the  City  of  London  in  particular, 
is  an  enemy  to  your  Majesty's  person  and  family,  a 
violator  of  the  public  peace,  and  a  betrayer  of  our 
happy  constitution,  as  it  was  established  at  the 
glorious  and  necessary  Revolution." 

The  King  is  said  to  have  changed  colour  at  the 
allusion  to  the  Revolution,  but  that  was  all.  The 
deputation  were  allowed  to  kiss  hands,  and  they 
withdrew  quietly.1 

"  I  have  just  come  from  Court,"  wrote  Rigby  to 
the  Duke  of  Bedford,  "  where  the  insolence  of  Beck- 
ford  has  exceeded  all  his,  or  the  City's,  past  exploits." 
"  This  is  the  first  attempt,"  he  says  further,  "  ever 
made  toehold  a  colloquy  with  the  King  by  any 

1  Fitzgerald's  Life  of  John  Wilkes,  vol.  xi.  pp.  93-109. 



subject,  and  is  indecent  in  the  highest  degree.  There 
were  very  few  aldermen  attended,  and  not  great 
numbers  of  the  common  council.  The  rabble  was 
of  the  very  lowest  sort."1 

Of  course  this  conduct  of  Beckford's,  whose  speech 
had  been  written  out  by  Home,  was  lauded  by 
Chatham  and  the  Opposition  ;  but  it  utterly  disgusted 
the  country.  The  exploit  turned  Beckford's  brain, 
for  a  fever  seized  him,  and  in  a  month  he  was  dead. 
Death  indeed,  at  this  time,  sadly  thinned  the  ranks 
of  Opposition.  Granby,  who  had  seceded  from  the 
Ministry,  died  in  October  1770.  In  the  following 
month  George  Grenville  passed  away,  and  a  little 
later  his  disciple  and  successor,  Lord  Suffolk,  gave 
the  deathblow  to  the  Grenville  faction  by  joining 
the  Ministry.  At  the  beginning  of  1771  the  Duke 
of  Bedford,  who  had  already  seen  his  followers  going 
over  to  Lord  North,  was  no  more.  Graf  ton  felt  no 
shame  in  returning  to  office ;  the  Great  Seal,  after 
being  a  year  in  commission,  was  given  to  Bathurst, 
who  held  it  seven  years.  Thurlow,  a  learned  and  able 
debater,  was  made  Attorney-General ;  and  Wedder- 
burn,  a  clever  lawyer  and  partisan  of  Chatham's,  went 
over  to  the  Government  and  became  Solicitor- 
General.  Notwithstanding  the  attempts  of  Burke 
and  the  pamphleteers  to  keep  up  the  tumult  it 
slowly  subsided,  and  once  more  in  Britain  peace 
began  to  smile  upon  the  land. 

The  disgust  and  resentment  of  the  Whigs  was 
really  ludicrous.  "  England  at  this  day,"  complained 
Chatham  in  January  1771,  "is  no  more  like  old 

1  Bedford  Correspondence)  vol.  iii.  p.  414. 



England  or  England  forty  years  ago,  than  the  Mon- 
signori  of  modern  Rome  are  like  the  Decii,  the 
Gracchi,  or  the  Catos."  Afterwards  he  wrote  that 
"  the  smallest  good  can  result  to  the  public  from  my 
coming  up  to  the  meeting  of  Parliament.  A  head- 
long, self-willed  spirit  has  sunk  the  City  into  nothing. 
.  .  .  The  narrow  genius  of  old- corps  connection  has 
weakened  the  Whigs,  and  rendered  national  union 
on  Revolution  principles  impossible.  The  public  has 
slept  quietly  upon  the  violation  of  electors'  rights  and 
the  tyranny  of  the  House  of  Commons.  Fuit  Ilium  ! 
the  whole  constitution  is  a  shadow."  "  After  a  violent 
ferment  in  the  nation,"  wrote  Burke,  "  as  remarkable 
a  deadness  and  vapidity  has  succeeded.  The  people 
have  fallen  into  a  total  indifference  to  any  matters  of 
public  concern.  I  do  not  suppose  that  there  was 
ever  anything  like  this  stupor  in  any  period  of  our 
history."  "  In  the  present  state  of  things,"  observed 
"  Junius  "  in  the  last  letter  he  addressed  to  Woodfall, 
"  if  I  were  to  write  again,  I  must  be  as  silly  as  any  of 
the  horned  cattle  that  run  mad  through  the  city,  or 
as  any  of  your  wise  aldermen.  I  mean  the  cause 
and  the  public.  Both  are  given  up.  I  feel  for  the 
honour  of  this  country  when  I  see  that  there  are 
not  ten  men  in  it  who  will  unite  and  stand  together 
upon  any  one  question.  But  it  is  all  alike  vile 
and  contemptible." 

Great  indeed  had  been  the  strain  on  the  King, 
although  he  was  careful  at  all  times  to  conceal  it. 
Once  at  a  garden  party  on  his  birthday  tears  escaped 
him  and  he  gave  vent  to  some  strange  expressions. 
But  the  new  confidence  which  the  people  reposed 



in  him  imparted  fresh  courage.  The  object  of  the 
rabble's  distrust  and  anger  was  changed  from  the 
sovereign  to  the  House  of  Commons.  Trouble  arose 
over  the  illegal  reporting  of  debates.  The  practice 
of  printing  the  speeches  of  members  was  then  con- 
trary to  law,  and  the  newspaper  or  printer  that 
undertook  to  give  a  synopsis  of  the  spoken  opinions 
by  the  Ministry  or  Opposition  leaders  was  exposed 
to  serious  penalty.  But  the  Radicals  pressed  for 
both  freedom  of  speech  and  writing,  and  so  far  as 
the  reporting  of  Parliamentary  debates  was  con- 
cerned they  had  for  once  the  King  on  their  side. 
A  printer,  named  Miller,  was  arrested  on  a  Speaker's 
warrant.  Miller,  being  a  Liveryman,  was  warmly 
upheld  by  the  City  of  London.  The  House  of 
Commons  insisted  on  Miller's  committal  to  prison ; 
the  City  Magistrates  effected  his  release,  and  com- 
mitted the  Commons  messenger  for  assault.  The 
upshot  was  that  the  Lord  Mayor,  Brass  Crosby,  and 
one  of  the  Aldermen,  named  Oliver,  were  summoned 
to  the  bar  of  the  House,  and  in  spite  of  the  threats 
of  a  violent  mob  were  committed  to  the  Tower. 
"  If,"  wrote  the  King  to  Lord  North  on  the  17th 
March  1771,  "the  Lord  Mayor  and  Oliver  are  not 
committed,  the  authority  of  the  House  is  annihilated. 
Send  Jenkinson  to  Lord  Mansfield  for  his  opinion 
of  the  best  way  of  enforcing  the  commitment  if 
those  people  continue  to  disobey.  You  know  well 
I  was  averse  to  meddling  with  the  printers,  but  now 
there  is  no  retreating.  The  honour  of  the  Commons  I 
must  be  supported." 

George  advised   strongly  that  the  Lord   Mayor  | 


should  be  conveyed  to  the  Tower  "  by  water 
privately  to  avoid  rescue,"  and  had  this  advice 
been  followed  the  tumultuous  scenes  which  marked 
his  progress  to  the  city  would  not  have  occurred. 
The  horses  were  removed  from  his  carriage,  and 
he  was  dragged  in  triumph  to  Temple  Bar.  Crosby 
was  prudent  enough,  however,  to  discountenance  a 
popular  rescue  and  to  save  the  Serjeant-at-Arms 
from  being  hanged  to  the  nearest  lamp-post.  Once 
in  the  Tower,  he  and  his  companion  received  osten- 
tatious marks  of  sympathy  and  regard  from  the 
Opposition  Whigs.  Rockingham  headed  a  party 
of  lords  and  commoners,  filling  sixteen  carriages, 
who  went  to  pay  their  respects  to  the  distinguished 
civic  prisoners.  But  the  prosecution  was  allowed 
to  drop,  and  on  the  8th  May,  when  Parliament 
was  prorogued,  they  were  set  at  liberty. 

Wilkes,  who  had  taken  a  great  part  in  the 
aforementioned  proceedings,  and  although  repeatedly 
elected  member  for  Middlesex  still  suffered  expul- 
sion, was  at  this  time  summoned  to  attend  at  the 
Bar.  The  popular  firebrand  wrote  that  he  must 
decline  setting  foot  within  the  precincts  of  St. 
Stephen's  unless  he  could  take  his  place  as  a 
member.  An  expedient  was  found  for  letting 
Wilkes  alone.  He  was  summoned  to  appear  on  a 
certain  day,  on  which  day  the  House  prudently 
decided  not  to  sit,  and  the  triumph  of  Wilkes  was 
complete.  Three  years  later,  after  a  general  elec- 
tion, he  took  his  seat  without  opposition.  In  1782 
actually  succeeded  by  a  large  majority  in  having 
ic  former  resolutions  against  him  erased  from 

R  257 


the  journals  of  the  House !  But  long  ere  this 
Wilkes's  opinions  had  undergone  a  change.  He 
learnt  to  despise  and  distrust  the  mob  as  much  as 
King  George  himself.  "  In  his  real  politics,"  wrote 
one  of  his  friends,  "  he  was  an  aristocrat.  His  dis- 
tresses threw  him  into  politics."1  After  being 
elected  Lord  Mayor  he  filled  for  many  years  the 
post  of  City  Chamberlain,  and  frequently  attended 
the  King's  levees.  He  had  indeed  reason  to  be 
grateful  to  George.  "  If,"  he  remarked  cynically 
on  one  occasion,  "  the  King  had  sent  me  a  free 
pardon  and  £1000  to  Paris  I  should  have  accepted 
them ;  but  I  am  obliged  to  him  for  not  having 
ruined  me." 

Later  we  find  this  "  patriot,"  who  had  caused 
his  King  so  much  uneasiness,  moralising  over  the 
violence  of  mobs.  "  Such,"  he  observes,  speaking 
of  the  revolutionary  outbreaks  in  France,  "  in  most 
ages  has  been  the  savage  madness  of  the  mere 
multitude  when  uncontrolled,  ignorant,  and  fanatic 
in  any  cause.  History  necessarily  records  such 
events,  but  at  the  same  time  becomes  quite  dis- 
gusting." In  1791  Wilkes  was  "  shocked  to  read 
of  the  savage,  cruel,  and  persecuting  spirit  of  the 
mechanics  at  Birmingham ;  and  I  trust  that  Govern- 
ment will  exert  itself  in  the  punishment  of  so  vile 
and  wicked  a  crew."  Truly  if  George  ever  doubted 
the  real  character  of  the  so-called  "patriots,"  his 
doubts  were  thus  set  at  rest  by  one  of  the  very 
ablest  amongst  them.  Wilkes  came  to  be  regarded 
good-humouredly  by  the  King.  At  a  levee  George 

1   Butler's  Reminiscences,  p.  7.3. 



once  asked  him  about  his  "  old  friend "  Serjeant 
Glynn,  his  chief  legal  supporter.  "My  friend, 
sir  ? "  retorted  the  new  courtier,  bowing  low ;  "  he 
is  no  friend  of  mine ;  he  was  a  Wilkite,  which  I 
never  was  ! "  One  of  Wilkes's  witticisms  in  his  old 
age  must  have  caused  George  some  amusement 
as  a  man,  if  pain  as  a  father.  The  City  official  was 
dining  with  the  Prince  of  Wales,  between  whom  and 
the  King  was  much  bitterness  of  feeling.  Wilkes 
proposed  the  King's  health.  "  Why,  Wilkes,"  said 
his  Royal  Highness,  "how  long  is  it  since  you 
became  so  loyal?"  To  which  the  other  gave 
answer,  "  Ever  since  I  had  the  honour  of  know- 
ing your  Royal  Highness ! "  In  1772,  one  of  the 
King's  sons,  then  a  mere  boy,  had  been  chid  for 
some  boyish  fault.  Wishing  to  take  his  revenge 
he  stole  to  the  King's  apartment,  shouting  at  the 
door,  "  Wilkes  and  No.  45  for  ever ! "  and  ran 
speedily  away.  George's  anger  evaporated,  and  he 
laughed  at  the  prank  with  his  accustomed  good- 

The  agitation  for  the  liberty  of  the  Press  was 
only  connected  with  the  general  agitation  of  the 
time.  From  1769  has  been  dated  the  rise  of  the 
Radical  party.  But  while  Radicalism  had,  as  we 
have  seen,  long  been  existent  in  the  body  politic, 
yet  it  had  been  without  intelligible  articulation,  its 
expressions  of  dissatisfaction  being  generally  ex- 
pressed by  broken  bones,  broken  windows,  and  in- 
sensate shrieks  for  liberty,  and  a  still  more  in- 
sensate hostility  to  the  King.  Formerly  Parliament 
had  been  supposed  to  represent  the  voice  of  the 



nation,  now  extra  Parliamentary  public  meetings 
and  associations  demanded  reform  in  the  consti- 
tutional machinery.  The  Whigs  were  not  prepared 
for  this,  but  Chatham's  influence  led  them  on  in  spite 
of  themselves.  The  Bill  of  Rights  Society,  formu- 
lated by  demagogues  like  Home  Tooke,  Wilkes, 
and  Glynn,  pressed  the  business  on  vehemently. 
It  was  certainly  a  change  in  tactics.  "Beaten  by 
the  King  and  his  friends,"  says  a  modern  com- 
mentator, "  at  the  game  of  corruption,  the  Whigs 
had  become  advocates  of  purity."  A  long  series 
of  tests  were  prepared  to  be  offered  to  candidates 
at  elections.  Every  candidate  was  required  to  aim 
at  a  full  and  equal  representation  of  the  people  in 
Parliament,  annual  Parliaments,  the  exclusion  from 
the  House  of  Commons  of  every  member  who 
accepted  any  place,  pension,  contract,  lottery  ticket, 
or  other  form  of  emolument  from  the  Crown ;  the 
exaction  of  an  oath  against  bribery.  Besides  this, 
the  impeachment  of  Ministers  was  to  be  supported, 
as  was  the  redress  of  the  grievances  of  Ireland, 
and  the  return  to  the  principles  of  self-taxation 
by  America. 

Burke  and  the  Rockingham  party  were,  however, 
not  to  be  driven,  and  their  rejection  of  these  proposals 
for  organic  constitutional  changes  caused  a  split 
between  the  new  Radicals  and  themselves.  "  Modera- 
tion, moderation  ! "  exclaimed  Chatham  angrily,  "  is 
the  burden  of  their  song ! "  As  for  him,  he  must 
"  swim  in  agitated  waters  " ;  he  would  be  "  a  scare- 
crow of  violence  to  the  gentle  warblers  of  the  grove, 
the  moderate  Whigs  and  temperate  statesmen." 


While  the  disappointed  Whigs  now  quarrelled 
amongst  themselves,  the  King  and  North  went  boldly 
on  with  the  task  of  governing.  "  A  little  spirit," 
wrote  George  to  his  Minister,  "will  soon  restore 
order  in  my  service." 

There  was  another  scream  on  the  part  of  Demos, 
a  further  exhibition  of  violence  towards  the  King, 
a  last  appearance  of  the  Princess  Dowager-Bute 
bogey  now  tottering  towards  its  grave.  On  25th 
March  1771  a  City  member,  Townshend,  delivered 
a  scurrilous  and  audacious  speech  in  Parliament 
against  the  King's  mother.  There  was  an  aspiring 
woman,  he  said,  who,  to  the  dishonour  of  the 
British  name,  was  allowed  to  direct  the  operations 
of  the  despicable  Ministers  of  the  Crown.  "  Does 
any  gentleman,"  he  asked,  "  wish  to  hear  what 
woman  I  allude  to  ?  If  he  does,  1  will  tell  him. 
It  is  the  Princess  Dowager  of  Wales.  I  aver  we 
have  been  governed  ten  years  by  a  woman.  It  is 
not  the  sex  I  object  to,  but  the  government.  Were 
we  well  ruled,  the  ruler  would  be  an  object  of  little 
signification.  It  is  not  the  greatness  of  the  criminal's 
rank  which  should  prevent  you  punishing  the  crimi- 
nality." l  Cries  of  "  Shame  !  "  drowned  the  rest. 

Three  days  later,  when  George  was  on  his  way  to 
the  House  of  Lords  some  democrats  hissed  him,  and 
one  threw  a  missile  at  his  head.  Effigies  of  Augusta 
and  the  unhappy  Bute  were  borne  in  carts  to  Tower 
Hill,  where  they  were  beheaded  by  chimney-sweeps 
in  the  presence  of  the  mob  and  cast  on  the  flames. 
A  few  months  more  and  the  Princess  Dowager  had 

1  Parliamentary  History,  vol.  xvii. 



passed  away,  and  as  her  character  and  the  relations 
between  herself  and  her  son  became  better  known, 
something  like  remorse  seems  to  have  filled  the  minds 
of  many  of  her  traducers. 

"Already,"  Lord  Barrington  could  write,  "the 
King,  though  most  shamefully  attacked  in  newspapers 
with  a  licentiousness  which  his  servants  are  very 
blamable  to  suffer,  gains  ground  in  the  opinion  and 
esteem  of  his  people,  and  the  Ministry,  though  not 
highly  rated,  is  not  disliked." x 

The  prophecy  that  North's  administration  would 
be  short-lived  was  a  false  prophecy.  Even  Chatham, 
until  the  American  rebellion  brought  him  once  more 
on  the  stage,  became  reconciled  to  the  Tory  regime. 
Writing  to  Lord  Shelburne  on  the  6th  March  1774 
he  says :  "  I  have  long  held  one  opinion  as  to  the 
stability  of  Lord  North's  situation.  He  serves  the 
Crown  more  successfully  and  more  efficiently  upon 
the  whole  than  any  other  man  to  be  found  could  do." 2 

While   in  the  British  Parliament  it   was   being 
pointed    out    that    the    troubles    in    America    were 
owing  to  the  vacillation  and  lack  of  consistency  in 
the  British  Government,  an  event  was  happening  in 
America  which  promoted  fresh  insubordination  and 
encouraged  the  enemies  of  the    King.     The  single 
regiment   left   in   Boston   to   keep    law    and    orde 
became   exposed   to    the   cowardly    insults    of    th 
populace.      The   unfortunate    soldiers    were    callec 
"  rascals,  lobsters,  and  bloody  backs  "  whenever  they 
appeared  in  the  streets.     Their  lives  were  renderec 

1  Ellis's  Original  Letters,  vol.  iv.  p.  530. 

2  Chatham  Correspondence,  vol.  iv.  pp.  332-3. 


almost  unendurable  by  the  persecution  of  the  baser 
populace.  But  their  Colonel,  acting  under  instruc- 
tions from  home,  deprecated  any  attempt  at  re- 
taliation. On  the  night  of  5th  March  1770  a  false 
alarm  of  fire  assembled  a  mob  of  men  and  boys. 
A  solitary  sentinel  guarding  one  of  the  public 
buildings  became  their  butt.  His  call  for  rescue 
brought  a  picket  guard  of  eight  men,  who  were 
immediately  surrounded  and  huddled.  One  of  the 
soldiers  was  struck  by  a  club.  Still  they  restrained 
themselves,  until  in  self-defence  from  the  stones,  balls 
of  ice,  and  clubs  with  which  they  were  threatened 
a  shot  was  fired.  This  was  immediately  followed 
by  the  discharge  of  seven  muskets,  each  loaded  with 
two  balls.  Three  of  the  mob  were  killed  and  eight 

Such  was  the  famous  Boston  massacre.1  The 
town  was  filled  with  excitement,  the  captain  of  the 
guard  and  the  eight  men  were  arrested  and  turned 
over  to  the  civil  authorities  of  the  Colony  to  stand 
their  trial,  and  the  result  that  only  two  were  found 
guilty  of  manslaughter  by  the  jury  showed  that  the 

1  There  were  many  dreadful  massacres,  ironically  observes  the 
historian  of  the  Eighteenth  Century — the  massacre  of  the  Danes  by 
the  Saxons,  the  massacre  of  the  Sicilian  Vespers,  the  massacre  of  St. 
Bartholomew — but  it  may  be  questioned  whether  any  of  them  had 
produced  such  torrents  of  indignant  eloquence  as  the  affray  which 
I  have  described.  The  "  Boston  massacre,"  or  as  the  Americans, 
desiring  to  distinguish  it  from  the  minor  tragedies  of  history,  loved 
to  call  it,  "the  bloody  massacre,"  at  once  kindled  the  Colonies 
into  a  flame.  The  terrible  tale  of  how  the  bloody  and  brutal 
myrmidons  of  England  had  shot  down  the  inoffensive  citizens  in 
the  streets  of  Boston  raised  an  indignation  which  was  never 
suffered  to  flag. — Lecky,  vol.  iii.  p.  367. 



soldiers  had  not  been  the  blameworthy  parties.  Yet 
the  evidence  of  the  trial  might  well  have  been  taken 
to  heart  by  the  British  statesmen  of  that  day.  As 
an  American  writer  of  our  own  time  avers,  "  It  is 
worth  reading  as  an  astonishing  revelation  of  the 
times,  the  anger  and  resentment  of  a  large  part  of  the 
people,  the  torrents  of  abuse  and  slang  that  were 
exchanged,  the  hatred  of  England  and  English 
control,  and  the  readiness  to  destroy  any  symbol  of 
that  control.  After  reading  the  description  by  the 
witnesses  of  that  night  in  Boston,  one  sees  that  the 
American  communities  could  never  be  turned  into 
modern  colonies  by  the  conciliatory  policy,  or  any 
policy  except  some  sort  of  extermination." 1 

Samuel  Adams  and  his  friends,  who  corresponded 
to  Wilkes,  Glynn,  and  Home  Tooke  in  England, 
used  this  incident  to  the  greatest  advantage  in 
awakening  the  angry  passions  of  the  mob.  Who, 
it  may  be  asked,  was  this  Samuel  Adams  ?  "  Sam  " 
Adams,  says  one  of  his  compatriots,  "was  always 
poor.  He  failed  in  his  malting  business,  was  un- 
thrifty and  careless  with  money,  and  had,  in  fact, 
no  liking  for,  or  ability  in,  any  business  except 
politics.  He  lived  with  his  family  in  a  dilapidated 
house  in  Purchase  Street,  and  when  in  1774  he 
was  elected  a  delegate  to  the  Continental  Congress 
at  Philadelphia,  his  admirers  had  to  furnish  the 
money  to  make  him  look  respectable.  All  this 
assistance  Adams  was  not  too  proud  to  accept. 
He  had  long  been  engaged  in  small  local  politics, 
and  when  tax-collector  had  been  short  in  his  ac- 

1  Fisher,  True  Story  of  the  American  Revolution,  p.  100. 


counts  and  threatened  with  ruin.  The  patriots,  of 
course,  forgave  him  this  lapse,  which  was  not  re- 
peated; but  Englishmen  and  loyalists  never  forgot 
it.  When  coupled  with  his  shiftlessness  and  shabbi- 
ness,  and  the  gifts  of  money  and  clothes  to  make 
him  presentable  in  the  Congress,  it  is  easy  to 
understand  the  indignation,  contempt,  and  disgust 
which  were  entertained  for  him  by  those  who  were 
opposed  to  the  rebellion.  Such  a  disloyal  and  dis- 
honest movement,  they  would  say,  naturally  had  a 
shabby  rascal  for  its  leader.1  Far  and  wide  Adams 
spread  the  report  of  a  "  ferocious  and  unpro- 
voked assault  of  brutal  soldiers  upon  a  defence- 
less people."  On  the  other  hand,  the  news  of 
North's  repeal  of  all  the  duties  save  that  on  tea, 
imposed  by  Townshend's  Act,  Hillsborough's  circular 
pledging  that  the  British  Government  would  raise 
no  further  revenue  from  America,  and  the  expiry 
of  the  Military  Quartering  Act,  gave  the  spirit  of 
rebellion  no  present  excuse  for  open  violence.  In 
vain  Adams  scattered  his  treasonable,  inflammatory 
rhetoric  broadcast;  in  vain  he  urged  that  the  time 
was  now  ripe  for  casting  off  allegiance.  "  The  weak, 
debt-ridden  state  of  England  has  been  ordained  by 
the  providence  of  God  to  give  us  a  chance  for 
independence."2  But  the  bulk  of  the  people,  even 
in  Massachusetts,  were  as  yet  wholly  averse  from 
his  policy.  Even  his  fellow  "patriots,"  such  as 
John  Adams  and  Gushing  of  Massachusetts,  and 
Reed  and  Dickinson  of  Pennsylvania,  were  for 

1  True  Story  of  the  American  Revolution,  pp.  114-15. 

2  Hosmer,  Life  of  Samuel  Adams,  p.  134. 



moderation.  They  had  just  won  a  moral  victory 
over  the  British  Government,  and  for  two  or  three 
years  they  relapsed  into  a  quiescent  state.  The 
non-importation  associations  became  virtually  dis- 
banded, and  the  Colonies  began  reimporting  all 
English  commodities  save  tea.  Tea  was  smuggled 
on  a  gigantic  scale  from  Holland,  and  American 
smugglers  grew  rich  thereby. 

The  situation,  then,  that  we  have  to  consider 
resolves  itself  into  this :  British  authority  had  been 
virtually  disestablished,  and  unless  further  measures 
were  taken  the  Colonies,  as  Wedderburn  said  in 
Parliament,  were  already  lost  to  the  Crown.  Yet 
at  this  time  the  American  loyalists  probably 
numbered  two-thirds  of  the  inhabitants  of  the 
Colonies.  The  bourne  to  which  they  were  drifting 
was  as  odious  and  alarming  to  them  as  it  could 
possibly  be  to  their  fellow-subjects  in  England ;  so 
that  we  find  the  richer,  more  intelligent,  quieter 
classes  of  the  community  fervidly  protesting  their 
loyalty  to  King  George  and  the  British  connection. 
Albeit  even  amongst  the  loyalists  some  delicacy, 
some  uncertainty,  was  felt  as  to  the  position  of 
the  British  Parliament.  The  British  Parliament 
did  not  represent  them ;  it  did  not  understand 
them  or  their  relations  to  the  Crown ;  it  was  torn 
by  faction,  and  deafened  by  domestic  partisanship. 
To  the  King  they  must  look  for  rescue  from  the 
noisy,  illiterate  demagogues  who  were  intent  on 
breaking  up  the  common  Empire.  That  was  the 
situation  in  the  first  three  years  and  more  of 
North's  Ministry.  Treason  had  received  a  check, 


but  the  check  was  only  momentary.  It  could  not, 
while  Adams,  Jefferson,  Otis,  and  their  faction 
lived,  be  permanent. 

Meanwhile  in  Britain  a  war  with  Spain  over  the 
Falkland  Islands  threatened  to  disturb  the  political 
horizon.  Spain  had  counted  on  the  assistance 
of  France,  which  was  still  smarting  from  her 
defeats  in  the  Seven  Years'  War.  But  although 
Choiseul  had  now  a  strong  new  fleet  at  his  back,  the 
French  king  declined  to  fight.  "My  Minister,"  he 
wrote  to  the  Spanish  king,  "  would  have  war,  but  I 
will  not."  Choiseul  was  dismissed,  and  Spain  was 
obliged  to  yield  to  British  demands.  One  permanent 
result  of  this  Spanish  scare  was  to  put  the  navy  on 
a  new  footing,  and  in  this  the  King  by  his  letters 
at  this  time  showed  great  zeal  and  earnestness. 

There  was  another  and  more  intimate  matter  to 
engage  the  sovereign's  attention.  We  have  seen 
that  in  the  summer  of  1771  the  King's  brother,  the 
Duke  of  Cumberland,  had  privately  married  Mrs. 
Horton,  Lord  Irnham's  daughter.  A  few  months 
later  the  avowal  of  the  Duke  of  Gloucester's  marriage 
with  Lady  Waldegrave  was  announced.  Distressed 
and  provoked  by  these  irregular  alliances,  the  King 
ordered  a  Royal  Marriage  Bill  to  be  prepared.  In  a 
message  to  Parliament  on  the  20th  February  1772  he 
stated,  that  the  right  of  approving  all  marriages  in 
the  royal  family  had  ever  belonged  to  the  kings  of 
the  realm  as  a  matter  of  public  concern.  He  recom- 
mended to  both  Houses  of  Parliament  to  take  into 
serious  consideration  whether  it  might  not  be  wise 
and  expedient  to  supply  the  defect  of  the  laws,  and  by 



some  new  provision  more  effectually  to  guard  the  de- 
scendants of  George  II.  from  marrying  without  the 
consent  of  the  King,  his  heirs  and  successors.  A  bill 
was  forthwith  brought  into  the  House  of  Lords,  de- 
claring that  none  of  the  royal  family,  being  under  the 
age  of  twenty-five  years,  should  marry  without  the 
King's  consent.  Upon  attaining  that  age  they  were 
at  liberty,  in  case  of  the  King's  refusal,  to  apply  to  the 
Privy  Council,  announcing  the  name  of  the  person 
they  were  desirous  to  espouse,  and  if,  within  a  year, 
neither  House  of  Parliament  should  address  the  King 
against  it,  the  marriage  might  be  legally  solemnised. 
Otherwise,  all  persons  assisting  in  or  knowing  of  an 
intention  in  any  of  the  royal  family  to  marry  without 
fulfilling  these  ceremonies  and  not  disclosing  it,  would 
incur  the  penalties  of  a  prcemunire. 

Vehemently  was  this  bill  opposed  in  all  its  stages. 
On  the  third  reading,  Rockingham  attacked  it  on 
the  ground  that  the  royal  family  might  in  time 
become  so  extensive  as  to  include  thousands  of 
individuals.  It  was  declared  to  be  German,  not 
English  in  its  character.  Camden  objected  to  it  for 
the  reasons  assigned  by  Rockingham,  and  deprecated 
the  annulling  of  a  marriage  between  persons  of 
mature  age.  Nevertheless  the  bill  passed  without 
amendment,  although  two  strong  protests  were 
entered  on  the  journals,  the  first  signed  by  fourteen 
Peers.  In  the  Commons  it  encountered  an  opposition 
equally  strenuous,  and  every  clause  in  the  bill  was 
debated  with  acrimony  and  pertinacity,  but  here 
also  it  passed  unamended.  There  is  little  doubt  that 
the  Act  has  been  of  advantage  to  the  royal  family 


and  of  great  benefit  to  the  nation.  Amongst  its 
opponents  was  young  Charles  James  Fox,  son  of 
the  first  Lord  Holland,  and  descended  from  a  royal 
bastard.  Fox  had  been  appointed  a  Lord  of  the 
Admiralty  in  1770,  and  had  hitherto  been  a  supporter 
of  the  Government  measures.  In  private  life  he  was 
the  spoilt  darling  of  his  age.  He  drank,  gambled, 
lived  in  extravagant  and  dissolute  fashion,  and  at 
twenty-five  years  of  age  was  £140,000  in  debt, 
a  debt  which  his  father  complacently  discharged. 
Fox  had  no  more  principle  than  Wilkes  or  his  own 
father,  but  he  had  the  gift  of  making  warm  friends. 
This  was  the  man  who  was  destined  by  fortune  to 
become  the  chief  political  antagonist  to  the  King, 
and  to  head  a  set  of  men  who  were  bent  on  every 
occasion  in  ascertaining  what  the  King's  wishes  and 
prepossessions  were  in  order  to  disappoint  the  one 
and  undermine  the  other. 

Before  many  months  had  passed  George  is  found 

writing  to  Lord  North :  "  I  am  greatly  incensed  at 

the  presumption  of  Charles  Fox  in  forcing  you  to 

vote   with   him   last   night,    but    approve    much   of 

your   making    your  friends    vote    in    the    majority. 

Indeed  that  young  man  has  so  thoroughly  cast  off 

every  principle  of  common  honour  and  honesty,  that 

he  must  become  as  contemptible  as  he  is  odious.     I 

hope  you  will  let  him  know  you  are  not  insensible  of 

!    his  conduct  towards  you."     Again  in  1774  he  writes  : 

"  I  think  Mr.  Charles  Fox  would  have  acted  more 

,    becomingly  to  you  and  to  himself  if  he  had  absented 

I    himself  from  the  House ;  for  his  conduct  is  not  to 

f    be  attributed  to  conscience,  but  to  his  aversion  to 



all  restraint."     It  was  not  many  hours  after  this  that 
Fox  was  dismissed  from  his  seat  at  the  Treasury. 

While  a  calm  marked  the  relations  between 
Britain  and  America,  the  East  India  Company  rapidly 
drew  near  bankruptcy.  Its  application  to  Govern- 
ment for  a  million  pounds  loan  gave  North  the 
opportunity  of  carrying  out  the  King's  policy  by 
asserting  the  right  of  the  Crown  to  the  territorial 
revenue,  and  placing  the  government  of  India  under 
Ministerial  control.  George  had  long  been  searching 
for  a  method  by  which  the  affairs  of  India  could 
be  placed  on  a  more  satisfactory  footing.  He  had 
sent  out  Admiral  Sir  Robert  Harland  with  the  same 
plenipotentiary  powers  to  the  princes  of  India  which 
he  had  formerly  given  to  Sir  John  Lindsay.  Harland 
was  instructed  to  inquire  how  far  the  article  relating 
to  India  of  the  definite  treaty  of  peace  and  friend- 
ship between  Britain,  France,  and  Spain  in  1763 
had  been  complied  with  ;  "  as  also  to  treat  with  any 
of  the  princes  or  powers  in  India,  to  whom  the 
eleventh  article  might  relate,  with  regard  to  the 
most  effectual  means  of  having  the  stipulations 
therein  contained  punctually  observed  and  carried 
into  execution."  George  at  the  same  time  promised 
"  That  he  would  approve,  ratify,  and  confirm  what 
should  be  agreed  and  concluded  in  relation  to  the 
premises  between  the  princes  and  the  European 
Powers."  He  wrote  a  personal  letter  to  the  Nawab, 
expressing  his  "  confidence  in  the  Company,  and  his 
desire  to  remove  every  suspicion  of  the  Company's 
lying  under  the  Kings  displeasure."  The  support 
of  the  Company's  importance  and  honour  in  the 

(From  the  Portrait  by  Reynolds) 


eyes  of  all  powers  of  India  formed  a  principal 
point  of  Harland's  mission.  Nevertheless,  Harland's 
arrival  in  September  1771  occasioned  great  jealousy 
and  alarm  amongst  the  Company's  Indian  officials. 
They  said  that  King  George's  interference  had  made 
the  Nawab  of  Arcot  very  careless  about  the  favour 
of  mere  trading  subjects. 

"  To  give  you,"  observed  the  Madras  Council, 
writing  to  the  Company,  "  a  clear  representation  of 
the  dangerous  embarrassments  through  which  we 
have  been  struggling  to  carry  on  your  affairs  since 
the  arrival  of  his  Majesty's  powers  in  this  country 
is  a  task  far  beyond  our  abilities.  They  are  daily 
more  and  more  oppressive  to  us.  It  has  always 
been  our  opinion  that,  with  your  authority,  we  had 
that  of  our  sovereign  and  nation  delegated  to  us 
through  you  for  managing  the  important  concerns 
of  our  country  under  this  Presidency.  It  is  upon 
the  prevalence  of  this  opinion  in  India  that  our 
influence  and  your  interests  are  vitally  founded. 
It  was  in  the  confidence  of  this  opinion  that  your 
servants,  exerting  all  their  vigour,  acquired  such 
power  and  wealth  for  their  country." 

Full  of  zeal  for  the  Royal  interests,  Harland  in- 
duced the  Nawab  to  write  directly  to  the  King. 

"  We  received  with  pleasure  your  letter,"  wrote 
George  in  reply,  "  in  which  you  express  to  us  your 
gratitude  for  the  additional  naval  force  which  we 
have  sent  for  your  security  as  well  as  that  of  our 
East  India  Company,  and  your  confidence  that  we 
shall  tread  in  the  steps  of  our  royal  grandfather, 
by  granting  protection  to  you  and  your  family. 



We  have  given  our  commander-in-chief  and  pleni- 
potentiary, Sir  Robert  Harland,  our  instructions  for 
that  purpose,  and  we  flatter  ourselves  that  we  shall 
reconcile  the  differences  which  have  arisen  between 
you  and  the  Company's  servants  against  your  mutual 
interest.  It  gave  us  satisfaction  to  hear  that  the 
Governor  and  Council  of  Madras  had  sent  the  Com- 
pany's troops  with  yours  to  reduce  your  tributary, 
the  Rajah  of  Tanjore,  to  obedience,  in  which  we 
hope,  by  the  blessing  of  God,  they  will  be  successful ; 
and  so  we  bid  you  farewell,  wishing  health  and 
prosperity  to  you  and  your  family."  The  foregoing 
was  signed,  "  Your  affectionate  friend,  GEORGE  R." 

The  Company  continuing  to  protest  strongly, 
the  King's  ambassador  was  recalled,  and  the  un- 
happy Nawab,  deprived  of  the  British  sovereign's 
support,  could  only  expect  punishment  for  his 
defection  from  the  authority  of  the  traders.  A 
member  of  the  Company  in  a  letter  to  the  proprietors 
declared  that  Parliament  "  stands  upon  a  precipice 
from  which  if  they  resign  into  the  hands  of  the  Crown 
the  sovereignty  and  territorial  revenues  of  Bengal 
they  plunge  themselves  into  the  gulph  of  corruption 
and  infamy,  and  us  into  the  abyss  of  perdition  and 
wretchedness.  Let  us  unite  as  one  man  against 
making  our  King  the  despot  of  Bengal !  " 

To  Hastings  Clive  wrote,  "  the  last  Parliamentary 
inquiry  has  thrown  the  whole  state  of  India  before 
the  public,  and  every  man  sees  clearly  that,  as  matters 
are  now  conducted  abroad,  the  Company  will  not  long 
be  able  to  pay  the  £400,000  to  Government."  In 
April  1772  Select  Committees  were  appointed  by  the 


House  of  Commons  to  inquire  into  the  condition  of 
the  Company  and  all  British  affairs  in  India.  Burke 
supported  the  Company,  urging  that  a  violation  of 
the  royal  charter  held  by  the  Company  was  a 
dangerous  precedent,  that  the  claim  to  the  terri- 
torial revenue  was  arbitrary,  and  that  the  extortion 
from  it  of  £400,000  a  year  had  only  increased  the 
Company's  distress.  In  the  following  year  com- 
mittees of  investigation  were  appointed.  Clive  was 
bitterly  attacked,  and  eventually  accused  of  ille- 
gally receiving  moneys  and  abusing  his  powers.  In 
the  Parliamentary  debates  of  this  session  Clive 
was  virtually  on  his  trial.  George's  own  opinion  of 
the  great  soldier  was,  that  he  had  been  "  guilty 
of  rapine,"  but  he  rendered  full  justice  to  his  genius 
as  a  soldier  and  administrator.  He  was  repeatedly 
consulted  by  the  King  and  North,  and  had  frankly 
advised  that  the  constitution  of  the  Company  ought 
to  be  "  undemocratised."  The  King  learnt  of  his 
tragic  death  with  deep  concern. 

After  the  Indian  Regulating  Bill  was  carried  in 
1773,  and  the  government  transferred  virtually  from 
the  trading  Company  to  the  Crown,  some  17,000,000 
Ibs.  of  tea  lay  unsold  in  the  Company's  warehouses. 
Funds  being  urgently  needed  to  rescue  the  Company 
from  bankruptcy,  an  ingenious  expedient  was  hit  upon 
of  securing  a  licence  from  the  Treasury  to  export  the 
superabundant  tea  to  America  on  the  Company's  own 
account,  instead  of  disposing  of  the  stock  to  middle- 
men. Consignees  in  the  different  Colonies  were  duly 
appointed,  invariably  persons  whose  loyalty  to  the 
British  connection  was  above  suspicion. 

s  273 


On  this  tea,  of  course,  a  small  tax  was  to  be  paid. 
The  tea  was  not  to  arrive  until  November,  conse- 
quently there  was  plenty  of  time  for  Samuel  Adams 
and  his  friends  to  stir  up  a  fresh  agitation.  The 
Committees  of  Correspondence  sent  out  letters  de- 
nouncing this  further  device  for  assisting  the  East 
India  Company  as  another  "  outrage "  on  America. 
There  was  no  apology  for  the  outrages  on  Britain. 
In  1772  the  British  warship  Gaspee,  of  eight 
guns,  was  employed  in  suppressing  the  barefaced 
smuggling  on  the  southern  New  England  coast. 
Smuggling,  as  we  have  seen,  was  one  of  the  most 
profitable  and  popular  of  Colonial  occupations.  In 
June  the  Gaspee  ran  aground  while  in  pursuit 
of  a  smuggler,  and  the  news  of  the  mishap  was 
carried  to  the  town  of  Providence,  Rhode  Island. 
The  Gaspee  was  boarded  by  a  band  of  armed 
men,  the  commander  shot,  the  crew  overpowered, 
and  the  King's  vessel  fired.  Although  large  rewards 
were  offered  by  the  Governor,  none  of  the  perpe- 
trators were  ever  discovered  or  punished. 

Bernard's  successor  in  the  Governorship  of  Massa- 
chusetts, Jonathan  Hutchinson,  was  meanwhile  in 
sore  difficulties  on  his  own  account.  Hutchinson 
was  a  patriotic  American  and  a  loyal  subject  of  the 
King.  In  England  he  had  correspondents  to  whom 
he  faithfully  related  the  critical  situation  of  affairs 
in  his  province.  Amongst  these  correspondents  was 
Whately,  a  former  private  secretary  to  the  late  Prime 
Minister,  George  Grenville.  When  Whately  died 
Hutchinson's  private  and  confidential  letters  to 
him  were  stolen  and  carried  to  Benjamin  Franklin, 


resident  agent  in  London  for  four  of  the  American 
Colonies.  The  stolen  correspondence  also  contained 
letters  from  Oliver,  the  deputy  governor  of  Massa- 
chusetts. Here  was  an  opportunity  not  to  be  lost  of 
adding  more  fuel  to  the  flame  ;  so  Franklin  at  once  sent 
the  letters,  although  all  were  marked  "  private,"  across 
the  Atlantic,  where  the  Committee  of  Correspond- 
ence at  Boston  caused  their  publication  and  broad- 
cast dissemination.  What  did  the  letters  contain  ? 
Reflections  upon  the  "  factious  character  of  the  local 
agitators,  the  weakness  of  the  executive,  the  necessity 
of  a  military  force  to  support  the  Governor,  and  the 
excessive  predominance  of  the  democratic  element  of 
the  constitution  of  Massachusetts."  Hutchinson  saw 
clearly  that  liberty  in  the  Colonies  had  degenerated 
into  licence.  "  I  never  think,"  he  wrote,  "  of  the 
measures  necessary  for  the  good  order  of  the  Colonies 
without  pain.  There  must  be  an  abridgment  of 
what  are  called  English  liberties.  ...  I  wish  the 
good  of  the  Colony  when  I  wish  to  see  some  further 
restraint  of  liberty,  rather  than  the  connection  with 
the  parent  State  should  be  broken  ;  for  T  am  sure 
such  a  breach  must  prove  the  ruin  of  the  Colony." 

Such  sentiments  maddened  the  agitators.  King 
George  was  petitioned  to  remove  Hutchinson  and 
Oliver  from  the  government.  While  Adams  and 
Otis  were  capering  about  in  their  anger,  the  ships 
laden  with  the  East  India  Company's  tea  reached 
America.  A  party  of  Boston  rioters,  encouraged 
by  Adams  and  the  Radicals,  disguised  themselves 
as  Indians,  boarded  the  ships,  and  flung  340  chests 
of  tea,  valued  at  £18,000,  into  the  harbour.  The 




respectable  citizens  were  shocked,  but  what  could 
they  do  ?  In  London  the  news  of  this  riotous  conduct 
synchronised  with  the  painful  revelations  concerning 
Hutchinson's  stolen  correspondence.  Who  had  com- 
mitted the  theft  ?  Whately's  brother  charged  a 
Bostonian  named  Temple.  A  duel  followed,  and 
Whately  was  wounded.  Then,  and  not  till  then,  did 
Franklin  come  forward  and  avow  that  he  alone  had 
procured  the  stolen  letters  and  sent  them  to  Boston. 

Franklin's  conduct  in  this  matter  has  never  been 
found  capable  of  satisfactory  defence,  even  from  his 
most  ingenious  apologists.  When  he  appeared  as 
Agent  for  Massachusetts  before  a  Committee  of  the 
Privy  Council  in  January  1774  to  support  the  Colonial 
petition  against  Hutchinson  and  Oliver,  he  was 
violently  arraigned  by  Solicitor-General  Wedderburn. 
"  Franklin,"  said  Wedderburn,  "  not  only  took  away 
these  papers  from  one  brother,  but  he  kept  himself 
concealed  until  he  nearly  occasioned  the  murder  of 
another.  It  is  impossible  to  read  his  account,  ex- 
pressive of  the  coolest  and  most  deliberate  malice, 
without  horror.  Amid  these  tragical  events,  of  one 
person  nearly  murdered,  of  another  answerable  for 
the  issue,  of  a  worthy  Governor  hurt  in  his  dearest 
interests,  the  fate  of  America  in  suspense — here  is  a 
man  who,  with  the  utmost  insensibility  of  remorse, 
stands  up  and  avows  himself  the  author  of  all. 
ask,  my  Lords,  whether  the  revengeful  temper  atti 
buted  by  poetic  fiction  only  to  the  bloody  Africa 
is  not  surpassed  by  the  coolness  and  apathy  of  th< 
wily  American  ? " 

It  is  not  our  intention  to  defend  such  asperiti< 


directed  against  a  man  of  Franklin's  position  and 
attainments.  When  we  compare  this  verbal  intem- 
perance with  the  verbal  licence  indulged  in  by 
Franklin's  countrymen  on  the  other  side  of  the 
Atlantic,  we  can  hardly  blame  the  long-suffering 
Briton  from  venting  his  indignation.  When  we  add 
to  their  scandalous  vituperation  their  open  breaches 
f  order  and  contempt  for  the  law,  Wedderburn's 
language  and  the  applause  it  evoked  are  easy  enough 
to  understand. 

The  Parliamentary  Committee  voted  the  petition 
of  the  Massachusetts  Assembly  to  be  "  false,  ground- 
less, and  scandalous,  and  calculated  only  for  the 
seditious  purpose  of  keeping  up  a  spirit  of  clamour 
and  discontent  in  the  province."  This  report  was 
confirmed  by  the  King  in  Council,  and  the  sinecure 
post  which  Franklin  had  held  as  Deputy  Postmaster 
of  America  was  taken  from  him.  We  have  heard  it 
said  that  this  marks  the  beginning  of  Franklin's 
enmity  to  the  British  connection.  We  hold  this 
absurd.  Franklin's  enmity  was  ingrained.  He  was 
a  republican,  a  freethinker,  a  utilitarian,  without  a 
spark  of  sentiment  or  loyalty  in  his  bosom.  His 
temperament  and  his  whole  career  prove  him  to  be 
closely  akin  to  the  Priestleys,  Beckfords,  Francises, 
Glynns,  and  Home  Tookes  of  English  politics. 
"  Wily  "  was  the  epithet  chosen  by  Wedderburn,  and 
wily  properly  and  emphatically  describes  Franklin's 
[  character.  With  an  able  mind  and  an  inquiring  dis- 
*  position,  a  sturdy  self-reliance,  and  a  certain  dignity 
of  demeanour,  Franklin  yet  betrayed  the  faults  of 
s  his  origin.  His  son,  Governor  Franklin,  a  man  of 



warmer  nature  and  a  more  rigid  virtue,  early  severed 
himself,  though  with  pain,  from  his  father's  political 
counsels  no  sooner  did  he  discern  whither  they  were 

The  King  felt  that  an  American  crisis  fast 
approached.  In  Massachusetts  the  Assembly  de- 
clared all  judges  who  received  salaries  from  the 
Crown  instead  of  the  people  unworthy  of  public 
confidence,  and  it  threatened  to  impeach  them 
before  the  Council  and  the  Governor.  In  February 
1774  proceedings  were  actually  instituted  against 
Oliver,  the  Chief  Justice  of  the  Crown.  Out  of 
100  members  who  voted,  no  fewer  than  92  sup- 
ported the  impeachment.  Hutchinson  of  course 
refused  to  concur  in  the  measure,  and  on  March  30th 
he  prorogued  the  House,  and  at  the  same  time 
accused  it  of  having  been  -'guilty  of  proceedings 
which  strike  directly  at  the  honour  and  authority 
of  the  King  and  Parliament." 

Events    were,     in    this    part    of    the    Empire, 
indeed  moving  rapidly  to  an  issue. 



WIDELY  did  the  ways  diverge.  Were  the  thirteen 
Colonies,  planted  by  Britain,  endowed  with  her 
laws,  supported  by  her  right  arm  for  a  century 
and  a  half,  to  be  abandoned  as  an  appanage  of  the 
Crown,  or  was  a  strong  and  stern  effort  to  be 
made  to  restore  to  its  full  and  pristine  strength, 
the  fast  sundering  bond  ?  It  was  no  easy  choice 
for  contemporary  politicians,  hardest  of  all  was  it 
for  the  King.  To  a  monarch  the  integrity  of  his 
dominions  is  a  matter  of  vital  concern.  The  unity 
of  an  empire  may  offer  to  statesmen,  through  force 
of  varying  circumstances,  a  problem  in  expediency, 
but  unless  the  ulterior  compensation  be  very  real, 
unless  the  political  danger  be  imminent,  the  head 
of  the  State  and  lord  sovereign  of  the  territory 
should  be  the  last  to  consent  to  its  abridgment. 
The  Crown  was  then,  as  to-day,  the  symbol  of 
imperial  unity.  For  its  wearer  to  agree  to  a  schism 
would  be  to  abdicate  sovereignty  over  a  section  of 
his  subjects. 

We  have  said  thus  much  on  the  regal  aspect 
of  the  case,  because  so  many  writers  have,  with 
lamentable  perversity,  either  taken  it  upon  them- 
selves, or  relied  wholly  upon  their  forerunners,  to 



denounce  George  for  the  uncompromising  rigidity 
of  his  attitude  towards  America.  Their  error  is, 
we  are  constrained  to  say,  that  they  have  never 
regarded  the  matter  from  any  standpoint  but  that 
of  the  Treaty  of  Versailles  of  1783.  George  has 
been  condemned  as  an  anti- American.  One  might  as 
well  condemn  him  for  being  anti-British.  The  King 
was  as  fervently  "true  American"  up  to  the  period 
of  the  Treaty  of  Versailles  as  he  was  truly  British. 
If  he  had  seen  that  his  American  subjects  wished 
to  be  free  of  their  allegiance,  were  his  own  personal 
feelings  solely  in  question,  he  would  have  resigned 
his  sovereignty  without  a  blow,  and  perhaps  with- 
out a  sigh.  George  was  inflexible  in  his  attitude 
because  the  loyalists  were  inflexible.  Loyal  America 
comprised  over  half  that  nation.  They  had  called 
upon  the  King,  as  we  have  seen,  to  save  them 
from  the  lawless  demagogues  and  restless  mischief- 
makers  who  were  provoking  a  schism  between 
them  and  their  English  brethren,  and  the  King, 
as  we  shall  see,  fought  their  cause  stubbornly  and 
valiantly,  inch  by  inch,  until  Fate  and  the  miser- 
able incapacity  of  his  generals  forced  him  to 
abandon  them. 

Bear  in  mind  that  behind  George  in  his  advocacy 
of  stringent  measures  towards  his  rebellious  sub- 
jects was  Chatham  and  the  body  of  the  nation. 
"  Although,"  wrote  Chatham,  "  I  love  the  Americans 
as  man  prizing  and  setting  a  just  value  upon  the 
inestimable  blessing  liberty,  yet  if  I  could  once  per- 
suade myself  that  they  entertain  the  most  distant 
intention  of  throwing  off  the  legislative  supremacy 


and  great  constitutional  superintending  power  and 
control  of  the  British  legislature,  I  should  myself  be 
the  very  first  person  ...  to  enforce  that  power  by 
every  exertion  this  country  is  capable  of  making."1 

Did  they  entertain  such  an  intention  ?  Chatham 
said  again,  "  I  am  no  courtier  of  America ;  I  stand 
up  for  this  kingdom.  I  maintain,  that  the  Parlia- 
ment has  a  right  to  bind,  to  restrain  America. 
Our  legislative  power  over  the  Colonies  is  sovereign 
and  supreme.  'When  it  ceases  to  be  sovereign 
and  supreme,  I  would  advise  every  gentleman  to 
sell  his  lands,  if  he  can,  and  embark  for  that 
country.  When  two  countries  are  connected  to- 
gether, like  England  and  her  Colonies,  without 
being  incorporated,  the  one  must  necessarily  govern ; 
the  greater  must  rule  the  less ;  but  so  rule  as  not 
to  contradict  the  fundamental  principles  that  are 
common  to  both.  There  is  a  plain  distinction  be- 
tween taxes  levied  for  the  purposes  of  raising  a 
revenue,  and  duties  imposed  for  the  regulation  of 
trade,  for  the  accommodation  of  the  subject ;  although, 
in  the  consequences,  some  revenue  might  incident- 
ally arise  from  the  latter." 2 

On  the  other  hand,  there  were  wise  politicians 
and  economists  who  would  have  suffered  the  peace- 
able dismemberment  of  the  Empire,  and  for  very 
sound  reasons.  "  Let  England,"  wrote  Tucker, 
Dean  of  Gloucester,  "  be  wise  in  time,  and  before 
she  draws  the  sword  let  her  calculate  what  possible 
advantage  she  could  derive  commensurate  with 

1  Thackeray,  Life  of  Chatham,  vol.  ii.  p.  279. 

2  Parliamentary  History. 



the  permanent  evils  which  would  inevitably  follow. 
The  Americans  have  refused  to  submit  to  the 
authority  and  legislation  of  the  supreme  legis- 
lature, or  to  bear  their  part  in  supporting  the 
burden  of  the  Empire.  Let  them,  then,  cease  to 
be  fellow-members  of  that  Empire.  Let  them  go 
their  way  to  form  their  own  destinies.  Let  England 
free  herself  from  the  cost,  the  responsibility,  and 
the  danger  of  defending  them,  retaining,  like  other 
nations,  the  right  of  connecting  herself  with  them 
by  treaties  of  commerce  or  of  alliance." 

Such  views,  though  sound  enough  in  theory, 
and  proved  right  by  time  (they  have  been  heard 
often  enough  since),  could  not  be  adopted  by  King 
George  without  a  gross  dereliction  both  of  his 
official  trust  and  of  the  confidence  reposed  in  him 
as  sovereign  of  the  American  people.  George  may 
privately  have  sympathised  with  the  opinions  of 
the  Dean ;  it  was  out  of  his  power  as  King  to  act 
upon  them.  As  early  as  1774  George  knew  that 
the  American  loyalists  would  never  surrender  their 
allegiance  to  him  without  a  struggle.  As  to  the 
rest,  he  wrote  to  Lord  North,  "  We  must  either 
master  them,  or  totally  leave  them  to  themselves 
and  treat  them  as  aliens."2 

Galloway,  one  of  the  ablest  of  the  Pennsylvania 
loyalists,  afterwards  expressed  his  belief  before  a 
Committee  of  the  House  of  Commons  that  at  the 
time  when  the  Americans  took  up  arms  less  than  a 
fifth  part  of  them  had  independence  in  view. 

1  Tucker's  Political  Tracts. 

2  Correspondence  of  George  III.,  vol.  i.  p.  216. 


In  April  1769  Franklin  had  written  to  Dr. 
Cooper :  "  I  hope  nothing  that  has  happened,  or 
may  happen,  will  diminish  our  loyalty  to  our 
sovereign,  or  affection  for  this  nation  in  general. 
I  can  scarcely  conceive  a  King  of  a  better  disposi- 
tion, of  more  exemplary  virtues,  or  more  truly  de- 
sirous of  promoting  the  welfare  of  all  his  subjects. 
The  people  are  of  a  noble  and  generous  nature, 
and  we  have  many  friends  among  them  ;  but  the 
Parliament  is  neither  wise  nor  just ;  I  hope  it  will 
be  wiser  and  juster  another  year." 

Franklin  in  his  Memoirs  says  :  "  I  industriously, 
on  all  occasions,  in  my  letters  to  America,  repre- 
sented the  measures  that  were  grievous  to  them 
as  being  neither  royal  nor  national  measures,  but 
the  schemes  of  an  administration  which  wished  to 
recommend  itself  for  its  ingenuity  in  finance,  or  to 
avail  itself  of  new  revenues,  in  creating,  by  places 
and  pensions,  new  dependencies ;  for  that  the  King 
was  a  good  and  gracious  prince,  and  the  people  of 
Britain  their  real  friends.  And  on  this  side  the 
water,  I  represented  the  people  of  America  as  fond 
of  Britain,  concerned  for  its  interests  and  its  glory, 
and  without  the  least  desire  of  a  separation  from  it." 

One  of  the  towns  in  the  province  of  Massachusetts, 
Hatfield,  not  only  declined  to  send  representatives 
to  a  Convention,  but  protested  against  it  as  illegal. 
They  denied  any  real  grievance,  declaring  at  the 
same  time  their  loyalty  to  the  King  and  fidelity 
to  their  country.  They  were  firmly  resolved,  they 
said,  to  maintain  and  defend  their  rights  in  every 
prudent  and  reasonable  way  as  far  as  was  consistent 



with  their  duty  to  God  and  to  their  King.  This 
letter  to  the  select  men  at  Boston  was  shown  to 
King  George,  and  gave  him  much  satisfaction. 

Many  of  the  Americans  maintained  with  much 
reason  that  Parliament  since  the  Revolution  of  1689 
had  acquired  a  wholly  new  place  in  the  British 
Empire,  and  that  the  arguments  of  English  lawyers 
about  the  necessary  subordination  of  all  the  parts  of 
the  British  Empire  to  the  supreme  legislature,  and 
about  the  impossibility  of  the  sovereign  withdrawing 
British  subjects  by  charter  from  Parliamentary  con- 
trol, were  based  upon  a  state  of  things  which  at  the 
time  when  the  Colonies  were  founded  existed  neither 
in  law  nor  in  fact.  "At  present,"  one  wrote,  "the 
Colonies  consent  and  submit  to  the  supremacy  of 
the  legislature  for  the  regulation  of  general  com- 
merce ;  but  a  submission  to  Acts  of  Parliament 
was  no  part  of  their  original  constitution.  Our 
former  kings  governed  their  colonies  as  they  had 
governed  their  dominions  in  France,  without  the 
participation  of  British  Parliaments." 

"  Much  of  the  language  and  some  of  the  argu- 
ments of  the  Americans,"  observes  Lecky,  "  were 
undoubtedly  drawn  from  the  Tory  arsenal."  It  was, 
Lord  North  said,  the  Colonists  who  appealed  to  the 
King's  prerogative. 

George  from  first  to  last  stood  not  only  by 
the  loyalists,  but  by  the  Imperial  Parliament.  "  It 
was  not,"  as  was  afterwards  observed,  "  a  war  of 
prerogative,  but  a  contest  undertaken  for  main- 
taining the  right  of  Parliament  to  impose  taxes 
on  British  America.  If  George  III.  would  have 


separated  the  interests  of  his  Crown  from  those  of 
the  legislature,  he  might  have  made  advantageous 
terms  with  his  transatlantic  subjects ;  but  he  dis- 
dained any  compromise  by  which  he  must  have 
dissevered  himself  from  his  Parliament." l 

Moderation,  persuasion,  expostulation  had  failed. 
It  was  now  time  for  other  measures.  The  Ameri- 
cans, as  North  said,  have  "tarred  and  feathered 
your  subjects,  have  plundered  your  merchants,  burned 
your  ships,  denied  all  obedience  to  your  laws  and 
authority  ;  yet  so  clement  and  so  long  forbearing  has 
our  conduct  been,  that  it  is  incumbent  on  us  now 
to  take  a  different  course;  whatever  may  be  the 
consequences,  we  must  risk  something.  If  we  do 
not,  all  is  over." 

Lord  George  Germain  maintained  that  America 
at  that  time  was  nothing  but  anarchy  and  confusion. 
"  Have  they  any  one  measure,"  he  said,  "  but  what 
depends  upon  the  will  of  a  lawless  multitude  ? 
Where  are  the  courts  of  justice?  Shut  up.  Where 
are  your  judges  ?  One  of  them  taking  refuge  in  this 
country  ?  Where  is  your  governor  ?  Where  is  your 
council  ?  All  intimidated  by  a  lawless  rabble."  The 
trial  of  the  military  would  be  but  a  protection  of 

The  same  policy,  the  same  firmness,  must  govern 
the  King  and  his  Ministers  with  regard  to  riotous 
disobedience  in  Massachusetts  as  in  Somersetshire 
or  Kent.  It  is  preposterous  to  talk  about  the  case 
being  dissimilar  owing  to  the  fact  that  the  Colonists 
had  no  representation  in  Parliament.  As  Mr.  Fisher 

1  Wraxall,  vol.  i.  p.  353, 



points  out :  "  '  No  taxation  without  representation 
was  never  a  part  of  the  British  Constitution,  and  is 
not  a  part  of  it  even  now.  It  could  not  be  adopted 
without  at  the  same  time  accepting  the  doctrine  of 
government  by  consent,  and  that  doctrine  no  nation 
with  colonies  could  adopt,  because  it  is  a  flat  denial 
of  the  lawfulness  of  the  colonial  relation." l 

In  the  contemporary  scheme  of  government  the 
Colonists  were  as  much  represented  in  Parliament  as 
the  majority  of  Englishmen  were  represented.  Seven 
millions  of  people  had  no  direct  representation  ;  those 
who  elected  legislators  were  an  almost  insignificant 
proportion  of  the  population.  It  was  the  system  of 
the  time,  and  a  system  that  was  to  remain  unchanged 
for  many  decades.  "The  House  of  Lords,"  our 
commentator  remarks,  "  represented  all  the  nobility, 
the  House  of  Commons  represented  all  the  commoners, 
and  as  commoners  the  Colonists  were,  therefore,  fully 

The  Boston  Port  Act  closed  the  harbour  of  the 
rebellious  Bostonians  and  removed  the  custom-house 
officers  to  Salem.  All  landing,  lading,  and  shipping 
of  merchandise  was  to  cease  until  the  town  had  made 
compensation  to  the  East  India  Company  for  the 
tea  the  rebels  had  destroyed,  and  had  satisfied  the 
Crown  that  trade  would  for  the  future  be  safely 

1  The  American  Revolution,  p.  64.  "The  sum  of  the  matter 
in  regard  to  no  taxation  without  representation/'  adds  this  author, 
"  is  that  America,  having  been  settled  by  the  Liberal,  Radical,  and, 
in  most  instances,  minority  element  of  English  politics  accepted, 
and  England,  being  usually  under  the  influence  of  the  Tory 
element,  rejected  this  much  discussed  doctrine.  We  went  our 
separate  ways." 


carried  on  in  Boston,  that  property  would  be  pro- 
tected, laws  obeyed,  and  wholesale  smuggling  put 
down.  This  was  not  all.  When  North  introduced 
the  Massachusetts  Government  Bill,  he  declared, 
what  was  perfectly  true,  that  the  government  of  the 
province  had  no  power  to  uphold  the  authority  with 
which  it  was  invested.  "There  must  be  something 
radically  wrong,"  he  said,  "  in  that  constitution  in 
which  no  magistrate  for  a  series  of  years  had  done 
his  duty  in  such  a  manner  as  to  enforce  obedience  to 
the  laws.  The  General  Assembly  was  not  to  be 
touched ;  it  was  the  legitimate  representative  of  the 
democracy,  but  a  Council  was  to  be  appointed,  as  it 
was  in  the  other  Colonies,  by  the  Crown.  Jurymen 
who  were  chosen  by  popular  election  would  be 
summoned  by  the  Sheriffs,  and  town  meetings, 
which  had  been  the  cause  of  so  much  sedition, 
brought  under  control."  Boston,  said  Mansfield, 
had  committed  "the  last  overt  act  of  treason."  The 
British  Government  had  crossed  the  Rubicon  ;  the 
Americans  would  see  that  no  more  temporising 
would  be  attempted,  and  Boston  would  submit 
without  bloodshed.  That  is  what  many  both  in 
Britain  and  America  hoped  and  believed.  Alas  for 
such  hopes ! 

A  further  Act  was  passed  for  the  impartial 
administration  of  justice,  providing  that  if  any 
person  in  the  province  of  Massachusetts  were  indicted 
for  murder  or  any  other  capital  offence,  and  it  should 
appear  to  the  Governor  that  the  incriminated  act 
was  committed  in  aiding  the  magistrates  to  suppress 
tumult  and  riot,  and  there  was  no  prospect  of  a  fair 



trial,  the  prisoner  should  be  sent   for  trial  to  any 
other  Colony,  such  as  Nova  Scotia,  or  to  Britain. 

Chatham,  condemning  the  turbulence  of  the 
Americans,  had  the  folly  to  plead  that  the  British 
should  still  "  act  towards  them  as  a  fond  and  forgiving 
parent."  He  would  have  had  nobody  punished,  and 
would  have  left  the  loyalist  majority  at  the  mercy  of 
the  terrorists.  This  was  hardly  good  Imperial  policy. 
Hutchinson  was  dismissed, and  Gage  became  Governor 
of  Massachusetts  and  Commander-in-Chief  of  the 

During  this  period  of  agitation  the  great  con- 
quered territory  of  Canada  had  been  governed  under 
the  terms  of  the  royal  proclamation  of  1763.  The 
administration  of  Quebec  was  controlled  by  a  mili- 
tary governor-general  and  the  Council.  What  was 
called  the  province  of  Quebec  was  bounded  on  the 
east  by  the  St.  John's  River  and  the  territories  of 
Nova  Scotia.  To  the  west  and  south  lay  a  vast 
region  claimed  by  several  of  the  American  Colonies. 
In  this  province  of  Quebec  there  dwelt  more  than 
80,000  French  Roman  Catholics  and  less  than  400 
English-speaking  Protestants.  By  the  terms  of  the 
Treaty  of  Paris  English  had  been  made  the  official  lan- 
guage, all  offices  were  held  by  the  British,  and  French 
laws  and  customs,  except  those  relating  to  religion, 
were  superseded.  Naturally  this  system  was  unwork- 
able. It  was  the  parent  of  constant  dissensions,  and 
its  injustice  was  manifest.  The  wretched  posture  of 
American  affairs  induced  the  British  Ministry  to  take 
the  advice  of  Sir  Guy  Carleton,  the  able  Governor 
of  Quebec,  and  conciliate  the  French  Canadians, 


The  existing  system  was  admittedly  a  temporary 
one.  The  Imperial  Government  had  no  desire  to  sub- 
vert the  ancient  laws  of  Canada,  or  to  compel  the 
people  to  live  under  fundamentally  opposite  religious, 
social,  and  political  conditions  from  those  of  their 
race.  By  the  Quebec  Act  of  1774  the  limits  were 
first  ascertained  of  the  new  province  of  Canada.  It 
was  restricted  to  the  east,  and  its  boundaries  ad- 
vanced to  the  Ohio  and  the  Mississippi  on  the  west. 
Criminal  cases  only  were  to  be  tried  by  juries  accord- 
ing to  English  law ;  civil  cases  were  governed  by 
French  law.  A  legislative  council  was  nominated 
by  the  Crown,  a  body  of  men  of  both  religious 
persuasions,  to  conduct  all  legislative  business  save 
taxation,  which  latter  was  reserved  to  the  British 
Parliament.  As  to  religion,  freedom  of  worship  was 
confirmed,  and  the  Roman  Catholic  priests  were  con- 
tinued in  their  former  tithes  and  dues,  but  no  Pro- 
testant was  rendered  liable  to  such  payment. 

Such  was  this  famous  measure — one  of  simple 
justice  and  toleration.  Yet  it  aroused  almost  as 
much  indignant  opposition  and  wrath  in  New  England 
as  the  Boston  Port  Bill.  The  narrow  American 
Puritanism  denounced  the  Quebec  Act  as  establish- 
ing Popery  while  merely  permitting  Protestantism. 
The  British  population  of  Canada,  they  declared, 
was  being  depressed  to  please  the  French  noblesse. 
The  denial  of  juries  in  civil  cases  and  the  absence 
of  the  Habeas  Corpus  Act,  both  of  which  were  un- 
known to  and  undesired  by  the  French  population, 
were  described  as  "  outrages  "  on  British  citizenship. 
Such  opposition  was  not,  however,  confined  to  New 

T  289 


England.  Every  argument,  every  denunciation  which 
the  bigoted  Americans  employed  was  re-echoed  when 
the  Bill  came  before  Parliament.  The  old  cry  of  "  No 
Popery  "  was  raised,  and  by  raising  this  issue  the 
Whigs  forced  George  to  join  their  side  ;  for,  accord- 
ing to  Chatham,  the  Bill  was  a  breach  of  the  Re- 
formation, of  the  Revolution,  and  of  the  King's 
Coronation  oath. 

One  member,  a  brother  of  Edmund  Burke,  de- 
scribed the  Bill  as  the  worst  that  ever  engaged  the 
attention  of  a  British  Council,  for  was  not  to  establish 
the  Popish  religion  to  establish  despotism  ?  In 
some  instances  Britain  had,  as  far  as  she  was  able, 
established  freedom ;  but  to  establish  Popery,  to 
establish  despotism  in  a  conquered  province,  was 
what  Britain  had  never  done  before.  Colonel  Barre 
roundly  asserted  that  the  Bill  was  Popish  from 
beginning  to  end.  The  lords  who  originated  it 
were  the  Romish  priests,  who  were  to  give  the  King 
absolution  for  breaking  the  promise  made  in  the 
proclamation  of  1763.  Another  heated  legislator 
denounced  it  as  a  most  abominable  and  detestable 
measure,  tending  to  introduce  tyranny  and  arbitrary 
power  in  all  the  Colonies  ;  to  give  a  further  establish- 
ment to  Popery ;  to  annul  the  Bill  of  Toleration,  and 
to  destroy  the  Act  of  Habeas  Corpus  !  "  No  treat- 
ment too  contemptuous  could  be  applied  to  it.  The 
Speaker  ought  to  throw  it  over  the  table,  and  some- 
body else  should  kick  it  out  at  the  door."  The 
Whigs  did  their  best  to  stir  up  popular  prejudice. 
The  Corporation  of  London,  in  a  petition  against  the 
Bill,  reminded  the  King  that  the  Romish  religion 


was  "  idolatrous  and  bloody,  and  that  his  illustrious 
family  was  called  to  the  throne  in  consequence  of  the 
exclusion  of  the  Roman  Catholic  ancient  branch  of 
the  Stuart  line  under  an  express  stipulation  to  pro- 
fess and  maintain  the  Protestant  faith."  In  reply, 
the  Ministry  denied  that  the  Romish  religion  had 
been  established ;  it  was  merely  tolerated,  and  toler- 
ated for  the  strongest  and  best  of  reasons. 

The  continuance  of  the  French  law,  dispensing 
justice  without  a  jury  in  civil  while  the  English 
code  was  granted  in  criminal  cases,  excited  numerous 
and  violent  debates.  The  Opposition  insisted  that 
by  this  distinction  a  complete  despotism  was  estab- 
lished :  the  King,  by  mixing  his  English  with 
French  subjects,  and  involving  both  in  the  same 
law,  was  equal  in  power  to  a  French  king.  George 
might  even,  if  he  pleased,  imprison,  as  Louis  did, 
by  lettres  de  cachet.  The  privation  of  trial  by 
jury  in  civil  cases  and  of  the  Habeas  Corpus  was 
attacked  as  an  intolerable  hardship. 

Several  London  merchants  trading  to  Canada 
petitioning  against  this  part  of  the  Bill  as  tending 
to  render  their  property  less  secure  were  heard 
by  counsel.  Two  merchants  produced  as  witnesses 
stated  that  the  people  of  Canada  were  highly 
pleased  with  the  trial  by  jury  in  civil  causes,  and 
that  a  discontinuance  of  it  would  be  of  great  preju- 
dice. On  the  other  hand,  five  witnesses  were 
examined,  some  of  whom  had  been  long  resident 
and  filled  important  stations  in  the  Colony,  and 
they  were  equally  certain  that  the  Canadians,  though 
highly  pleased  with  the  British  form  of  criminal  juris- 




prudence,  had  an  insurmountable  disgust  to  the  deci- 
sion of  civil  causes  by  a  jury.1 

When  the  Quebec  Bill,  after  its  passage  through 
the  Commons,  came  back  to  the  Lords,    Chatham 
resumed  his  invective.    It  was  the  child  of  inordinate 
power.     It  would  involve  this  country  in  a  thousand 
difficulties,  shake  the  affection  of  all  his  Majesty's 
subjects  in  England  and  Ireland,  and   finally   lose 
him  the  hearts  of  all  the  Americans.     He  invoked  \ 
the  bench  of  Bishops  to  resist  a  law  by  which  the 
Roman  Catholic  religion  would  become  the  establish-  j 
ment  of  a  vast  continent,  and  insisted  that  Parliament j 
had  no  more  right  to  alter  the  oath  of  Supremacy  1 
than   to   repeal  the  Great   Charter,   or  the  Bill  of 

It  now  appeared  that  George,  though  the  firmest 
of  Protestants,  strongly  favoured  the  Quebec  Act. 
He  regarded  it  as  wise,  prudent,  and  equitable. 
It  was  founded  on  the  clearest  principles  of  humanity  j 
and  justice,  and  calculated  to  produce  the  best  effects 
in  quieting  the  minds  and  promoting  the  happiness! 
of  his  Canadian  subjects.  Had  George  at  this 
juncture  felt  otherwise  in  the  slightest  degree,  the 
Bill  would  never  have  passed.  Although  an  enemy 
of  Popery,  the  sovereign  was  no  enemy  to  Roman 
Catholics,  and  still  less  to  justice.  The  Quebec 
Act  saved  Canada  to  his  Empire. 

With  regard  to  the  repressive  measures  decreed 
by  the  British  Parliament  against  the  colonists  of 
Massachusetts,  any  illusions  of  their  effectiveness  were 
to  be  rudely  dispelled.  Those  who  supposed  that 

1  Adolphus,  vol.  ii.  p.  96. 


the  passions  and  predilections  of  the  entire  com- 
munity were  to  be  subdued  by  simple  Imperial 
legislative  ordinances  and  instant  obedience  to  laws, 
which  they  had  long  discredited,  were  to  have  the 
veil  drawn  from  their  eyes.  On  1st  June  Gage 
closed  Boston  harbour.  Between  that  date  and  the 
meeting  of  the  Continental  Congress  of  Philadelphia 
on  the  5th  September  many  of  the  other  Colonies, 
as  well  as  the  towns  and  villages  of  New  England, 
showed  their  practical  sympathy  with  the  cause  of 
the  Bostonians,  which  they  had  already  been  taught 
to  regard  as  their  own.  Ignorance  easily  takes 
alarm  ;  tumultuous  passions  resent  discipline  ;  punish- 
ment that  is  but  lightly  felt  only  serves  to  inflame 
and  exasperate,  rather  than  to  subdue.  Copies  of 
a  bill  from  the  Boston  revolutionaries  were  trans- 
mitted to  all  the  thirteen  Colonies.  The  Act  of 
Parliament  was  printed  with  black  borders  and 
hawked  about  the  streets  as  a  "barbarous,  cruel, 
bloody,  and  inhuman  murder."  In  Virginia  a  small 
band  of  influential  malcontents  agreed  that  the 
opportunity  for  arousing  the  Colonies  was  not  one 
to  be  lost.  They  met  in  the  Council  Chamber  of 
their  legislative  house,  and  appointed  the  1st  of 
June  as  a  day  of  fasting,  humiliation,  and  prayer 
to  "  implore  Heaven  to  avert  from  them  the  evils  of 
civil  war,  to  inspire  them  with  firmness  in  support 
of  their  rights,  and  to  turn  the  hearts  of  the  King 
and  Parliament  to  moderation  and  justice."  Such 
an  encroachment  on  the  Governor's  prerogative  as 
the  appointment  of  a  fast  without  his  concurrence, 
together  with  the  motives  of  the  proceeding,  left 



him  no  other  course  but  to  dissolve  the  Assembly. 
The  example  was  followed  in  other  Colonies,  and 
the  American  rebellion  was  begun  in  earnest. 

Yet   there    was    even    now    a    chance   that    the 
traitors  and  demagogues  would  not  have  their  way. 
Lies   and   libels    might    be    crushed    by   truth    and 
temperance.     When    the   Continental   Congress,   as 
the  body  was  unaptly  termed,  seeing  that  it  then 
represented  less  than  a  tenth  part  of  the  continent, 
met   at   Philadelphia,    Georgia    alone    had   sent   no 
delegate.     According  to  John  Adams,  but  one-third 
of  the  delegates  were  Whigs  or  revolutionaries,  half 
were  Tories  or  loyalists,  and  the  rest  mongrel.     The 
whole    number    attending    Congress    was    fifty-six. 
Each  Colony  had  one  suffrage  only  in  the  decision 
of  every  question,   its    vote  being   decided   by   the 
majority  of  its  representatives.     This  regulation  lent 
an    appearance   of    unanimity    to    the    proceedings 
which  in  reality  they  did  not  enjoy.     The  debates 
being    conducted    in    strict    privacy  behind   locked 
doors,  little  knowledge  of  the  arguments  used  tran- 
spired, and  the  results  were  received  by  the  people 
as  the  essence  of  wisdom  and  unity.     One  of  their 
measures  was  to  formulate  a  declaration  of  Rights, 
and   another   to    issue   addresses   to   the   people   of 
Britain,    America,   and   Canada  separately.      These 
productions  were  very  artful  in  their  appeals  to  pre- 
judice.    The  people  of  Britain  were  reminded  of  the 
struggles  maintained  by  their  ancestors  in  the  cause 
of  liberty,  and  told   that  the  project  of  Ministers 
in  endeavouring  to  enslave  the  Americans,  derived 
from  the  same  stock,  tended  only  to  the  more  easy 


introduction  of  slavery  at  home.  They  claimed  a 
participation  of  British  rights ;  the  freedom  of 
Englishmen  would  be  the  model  and  scope  of  their 
wishes.  After  recapitulating  their  services  in  the 
former  war  and  the  proceedings  of  Parliament  since 
that  time,  they  described  the  plunder  of  the  tea 
ships  as  a  mere  personal  not  a  public  affair,  the 
remedy  of  which  ought  to  have  been  sought  by  the 
sufferers  in  the  courts  of  law,  without  an  appeal  to 
Parliament.  As  for  the  Quebec  Act,  it  was  in- 
tended to  overthrow  the  liberties  of  the  British 
Colonies  by  a  vast  influx  of  Catholics,  swelled  by 
emigrations  from  Europe.  "  We  cannot  suppress 
our  astonishment,"  runs  the  address,  "  that  a  British 
Parliament  should  ever  consent  to  establish  a  re- 
ligion which  had  deluged  your  island  in  blood,  and 
dispersed  impiety,  bigotry,  persecution,  murder,  and 
rebellion  through  every  part  of  the  world."  The 
American  malcontents  had  discovered  the  real  reason 
of  the  Ministry  in  endeavouring  to  tax  America  at 
pleasure.  It  was  merely  to  draw  such  immense 
sums  into  the  royal  coffers  as  would  render  the  King 
independent  of  Parliament !  If  Britain  really  wished 
to  restore  harmony,  the  Colonies  must  be  placed  in 
the  same  situation  as  they  were  at  the  close  of  the 
last  war. 

In  the  address  to  the  Colonists  all  the  acts  of  the 
British  Government  were  recapitulated.  The  conduct 
of  the  American  governors  was  reviewed,  the  pro- 
ceedings at  New  York  and  Boston  vindicated.  The 
Quebec  Act  was  violently  denounced.  From  its 
passage,  the  Congress  argued,  as  beyond  the  perad- 



venture  of  doubt,  that  a  resolution  was  formed, 
and  about  to  be  executed,  to  extinguish  the  freedom 
of  all  the  Colonies  by  subjecting  them  to  rank 

After  the  abuse  and  insult  lavished  on  the 
French  Canadians,  one  might  hardly  have  expected 
the  Congress  to  have  invoked  them  as  friends  and 
fellow-citizens  in  a  common  cause,  that  they  would 
be  invited  to  send  deputies  to  the  next  Congress. 
Here  the  sharp  pettifogging  democrats  overreached 
themselves.  They  told  the  Canadians,  indeed,  that 
the  constitution  bestowed  on  them  by  Parliament 
was  a  violation  of  King  George's  promise  at  the 
peace.  British  rights  in  mere  justice  ought  to 
have  been  substituted  for  Gallic  jurisprudence. 
Liberty  of  conscience  in  religion  was  a  right  of 
Nature,  for  which  the  Canadians  were  not  obliged 
to  any  Act  of  Parliament.  If  laws  divine  and 
human  could  secure  such  liberty  against  the 
despotic  attacks  of  wicked  men,  it  was  already 
secure.  This  logic  was  backed  up  (here  Jefferson's 
artful  aid  appeared)  by  quotations  from  foreign 
writers,  particularly  Montesquieu  and  Beccaria,  as 
well  as  by  insidious  appeals  to  the  Frenchman's 
known  love  of  glory.  If  Canadians  would  only 
throw  in  their  lot  with  the  other  Colonies,  they 
Avould  be  governed  and  protected  by  just  and 
equitable  laws.  If  they  refused,  terrible  would  be 
their  fate.  They  would  be  subjected  to  all  the 
evils  of  the  English  constitution  and  French  govern- 
ment combined.  The  inquisition  and  the  excise ; 
partial  judges,  and  arbitrary  governors ;  privileges 


and  immunities  dependent  on  the  smiles  or  frowns 
of  a  Minister,  lettres  de  cachet,  gaols,  dungeons,  and 
oppressive  service;  and  all  the  apparatus  of  bloody 
tyrants  and  despots  awaited  the  wretched  people 
of  Quebec. 

Lastly  came  the  American  petition  to  their 
sovereign.  After  enumerating  all  their  grievances, 
Jefferson,  Adams,  and  the  rest  presumed  that  to  a 
king  who  "gloried  in  the  name  of  Briton"  the  bare 
recital  of  the  outrages  they  had  suffered  would  justify 
the  loyal  subjects  who  fled  to  the  foot  of  his  throne 
and  implored  his  clemency  for  protection.  All  the 
distresses,  dangers,  fears,  and  jealousies  which  over- 
whelmed the  Colonies  with  affliction  were  ascribed  to 
the  destructive  system  of  Colonial  administration 
adopted  since  1763.  "  Had  our  Creator,"  they  said, 
"been  pleased  to  give  us  existence  in  a  land  of 
slavery,  the  sense  of  our  condition  might  have  been 
mitigated  by  ignorance  and  habit.  But,  thanks  be 
to  His  adorable  goodness,  we  were  born  the  heirs 
of  freedom,  and  ever  enjoyed  our  right  under  the 
auspices  of  your  royal  ancestors,  whose  family  was 
seated  on  the  British  throne  to  rescue  and  secure 
a  pious  and  gallant  nation  from  the  popery  and 
despotism  of  a  superstitious  and  inexorable  tyrant." 
Feeling  as  men,  and  thinking  as  they  did,  silence 
would  be  disloyalty ;  and  as  the  King  enjoyed  the 
signal  distinction  of  reigning  over  freemen,  the 
language  of  freemen  could  not  be  displeasing.  But 
their  sovereign's  indignation  would  rather  fall  on 
those  designing  and  dangerous  persons  who  daringly 
interposed  between  him  and  his  faithful  subjects,  and 



who  for  several  years  past  had  been  incessantly 
employed  in  dissolving  the  bonds  of  society,  abusing 
his  Majesty's  authority,  prosecuting  the  most  danger- 
ous and  irritating  projects  of  oppression,  and 
accumulating  on  the  petitioner  injuries  too  severe 
to  be  any  longer  tolerable. 

Much  of  this  was  worthy  of  Beckford,  Home 
Tooke,  and  Wilkes,  but  it  doubtless  all  emanated 
from  Jefferson.  Only  the  pen  that  could  achieve  the 
Declaration  of  Independence  could  manufacture  such 
hypocritical  trash  as  this.  The  address  wound  up 
by  appealing  to  "  the  Being  who  searches  thoroughly 
the  hearts  of  His  creatures,"  solemnly  professing  that 
their  councils  had  been  influenced  by  no  other 
motive  than  "  a  dread  of  impending  destruction  "  !  It 
was  transmitted  to  the  Colonial  agents,  with  instruc- 
tions, after  delivering  it  into  the  King's  hands,  to 
make  it  public  through  the  press,  together  with 
their  list  of  grievances,  and  to  circulate,  as  early  as 
possible,  their  address  to  the  people  through  all  the 
trading  cities  and  manufacturing  towns  of  Britain. 

After  these  proceedings  the  Congress  dissolved, 
having  first  passed  a  resolution  for  convening  a  new 
Congress  on  the  10th  of  May.  It  need  hardly  be 
said  that  these  measures  of  the  Congress  were  by 
no  means  approved  of  even  by  a  majority  of  them- 
selves. Roughly,  the  Congress  was  divided  into 
two  parties.  The  loyal  moderate  and  respectable 
men,  whose  only  intention  was  to  define  candidly 
and  clearly  American  rights  and  charters,  and  re. 
spectfully  petition  for  redress  of  grievances,  formed 
one  group,  the  other  consisted  of  nominal  Presby- 


terians,  Puritans,  and  Methodists,  allied  to  men  of 
bankrupt  fortunes,  and  overwhelmed  in  debt  to 
British  merchants,  who  were  desirous  to  throw  off 
all  subordination  to,  and  connection  with,  the  British 
Empire.  They  endeavoured  by  fiction,  falsehood, 
and  fraud  to  delude  the  people  from  their  allegiance, 
to  reduce  government  to  a  state  of  anarchy,  and 
incite  the  ignorant  and  vulgar  to  arms.1 

Whatsoever  was  to  happen,  Samuel  Adams, 
Jefferson,  Otis,  Henry,  and  the  rest  had  now  shot 
their  bolt.  By  the  moderate  section  the  proceed- 
ings of  the  Congress  of  1774  were  received  with  dis- 
approval. The  loyalists,  or  Tories,  comprised,  in 
addition  to  the  royal  officers,  many  of  the  best  and 
most  cultivated  people  in  the  Colonies,  most  of  the 
chief  landowners,  the  Episcopal  clergy  and  other 
religious  teachers,  the  most  talented  physicians, 
some  of  the  most  eminent  lawyers,  and  most  of 
the  prosperous  merchants.  A  large  proportion, 
perhaps  half,  of  the  farmers,  mechanics,  and 
labourers  were  loyalists.  But  this  class  was  weakest 
in  New  England,  though  numerous  in  Connecticut. 
New  York  was  the  loyalist  stronghold,  while  of  the 
other  middle  Colonies,  Pennsylvania  was  against 
revolution,  and  New  Jersey  contained  a  strong 
loyalist  minority.  The  loyalists  in  the  southern 
Colonies  were  about  as  numerous  as  the  rebels, 
and  in  South  Carolina  and  Georgia  outnumbered 
them.  The  number  of  loyalists  and  rebels  fluc- 
tuated ;  the  loyalists  claimed  to  be  in  a  majority. 
It  is  stated  that  at  least  half  of  the  most  re- 

1  Adolphus,  vol.  ii.  p.  127. 



spected  part  of  the  population  were  throughout  the 
Revolution  either  avowedly  or  secretly  averse  from 
revolution.1  We  find  that  at  least  20,000  loyalists 
joined  the  British  army,  some  thirty  regiments  or 
battalions  of  these  being  regularly  organised  and 
paid.  Most  of  them  were  peaceable  men,  not  more 
inclined  for  fighting  than  the  mass  of  their  opponents, 
who  were  forced  into  war  by  an  active  minority. 
Through  the  skilful  management  of  this  minority 
the  loyalists  were  disarmed  everywhere  at  the 
beginning  of  the  struggle.2 

In  the  carrying  out  of  his  orders  Gage  met 
everywhere  with  violence.  He  called  for  more 
troops,  and  fortified  Boston  Neck  against  the  in- 
surgents. Loyalists  were  persecuted  ruthlessly  by 
the  mob.  The  new  councillors  appointed  by  the 
Crown  were  forced  by  mob  violence  to  resign. 
Some  were  tarred  and  feathered,  or  borne  on  rails 
through  the  streets.  Their  houses  were  defiled  with 
filth.  A  reign  of  terror  began.  The  courts  of  justice 
were  forcibly  closed ;  jurors  dared  not  serve,  and 
judges  and  sheriffs  were  treated  with  ignominy. 
One  judge  who  had  the  courage  to  commit  to  gaol 
a  revolutionary  who  was  employed  in  disarming  the 
loyalists  was  seized  and  tarred  and  feathered,  while 
the  prisoner  was  rescued.  As  the  months  wore  on 
in  all  New  England  a  loyalist  could  find  no  safety, 
until  his  very  misery  often  compelled  him  to  adopt 
the  cause  of  the  rebels.  "  Are  not  the  bands  of 
society,"  wrote  one  of  them,  "  cast  asunder,  and  the 

1  Sabine,  The  American  Loyalists,  pp.  51,  55,  65. 

2  Hunt,  Political  History  of  England,  pp.  134-5. 

"THE   DIE   IS   NOW   CAST" 

sanctities  that  hold  man  to  man  trampled  upon  ? 
Can  any  of  us  recover  debts,  or  obtain  compensa- 
tion for  an  injury,  by  law  ?  Are  not  many  persons 
whom  we  once  respected  and  revered  driven  from 
their  homes  and  families,  and  forced  to  fly  to  the 
army  for  protection,  for  no  other  reason  but  their 
having  accepted  commissions  under  our  King  ?  Is 
not  civil  government  dissolved  ?  .  .  .  What  kind  of 
offence  is  it  for  a  number  of  men  to  assemble  armed, 
and  forcibly  to  obstruct  the  course  of  justice,  even 
to  prevent  the  King's  courts  from  being  held  at  their 
stated  terms ;  to  seize  upon  the  King's  provincial 
revenue — I  mean  the  moneys  collected  by  virtue  of 
grants  made  to  his  Majesty  for  the  support  of  his 
government  within  this  province ;  to  assemble  without 
being  called  by  authority,  and  to  pass  Govern- 
mental Acts ;  to  take  the  militia  out  of  the  hands 
of  the  King's  representative,  or  to  form  a  new  militia ; 
to  raise  men  and  appoint  officers  for  a  public  pur- 
pose without  the  order  or  permission  of  the  King  or 
his  representative,  or  to  take  arms  and  march  with  a 
professed  design  of  opposing  the  King's  troops  ? " l 

All  of  the  petitions  and  representations  of  the 
loyalists  forwarded  by  the  royal  governors  of  the 
various  Colonies  were  read  attentively  by  George. 
"  The  die  is  now  cast,"  he  wrote.  The  Empire 
must  put  forth  all  its  strength  to  save  it  from  the 
fate  of  dismemberment. 

A  large  portion  of  the  most  ardent  patriots,  it 
has  been  said,  actually  fancied  that  their  claim 
would  be  peaceably  admitted,  and  that  the  legisla- 

1  Lecky,  vol.  iii.  p.  406. 



ture  of  the  greatest  country  in  the  world  would 
repeal  no  less  than  eleven  Acts  of  Parliament  in 
obedience  to  a  mere  threat  of  resistance.  What 
encouraged  them  in  this  opinion  was  the  attitude 
of  the  Whig  party,  and  such  political  leaders  as 
Chatham,  Camden,  Shelburne,  Burke,  Barrd,  and 
Conway,  besides  the  encouragement  of  the  English 
merchants,  particularly  those  of  London.  The 
revolutionary  party  really  thought  they  had  Britain 
on  her  knees.  She  was,  as  Chase  observed  in 
Congress,  "already  taxed  as  much  as  she  could 
bear.  She  is  compelled  to  raise  ten  millions  in 
time  of  peace.  Her  whole  foreign  trade  is  but  four 
and  a  half  millions,  while  the  value  of  the  importa- 
tions to  the  Colonies  is  probably  little  if  at  all 
less  than  three  millions."  Consequently  it  was 
argued  that  a  total  non-importation  and  non-expor- 
tation policy  towards  the  Mother  Country  must 
produce  her  national  bankruptcy  in  a  short  space  of 

Hutchinson,  late  Governor  of  Massachusetts, 
was  now  in  England.  He  was  a  native  of  Massa- 
chusetts, the  historian  of  that  Colony,  an  able  and 
cultured  man,  and  a  fitting  representative  of  the 
better-class  American  of  that  day.  If  any  man 
knew  the  character  and  opinions  of  his  country- 
men, Hutchinson  should  have  been  that  man. 
But  while  Hutchinson  told  the  King  that  the 
majority  of  the  province  were  loyal  and  longed 
ardently  for  peace  and  order,  he  underrated  the 
numbers,  or  at  least  the  power  and  the  pluck,  of 
the  factious  minority.  He  urged  the  King  to 


take  vigorous  repressive  measures.  The  people  of 
America,  he  said,  would  never  attempt  to  resist 
a  British  army,  and  that  if  they  did  resist,  a  few 
regiments  would  be  sufficient  to  subdue  them. 

Such  men  as  Hutchinson  may  have  been 
absurdly  prone  to  exaggeration,  because  it  went 
to  their  hearts  to  contemplate  Britain's  surrender 
of  America  without  a  struggle.  "There  were,*' 
says  Lecky  in  one  of  his  most  powerful  passages, 
"  brave  and  honest  men  in  America  who  were  proud 
of  the  great  and  free  empire  to  which  they  be- 
longed, who  had  no  desire  to  shrink  from  the 
burden  of  maintaining  it,  who  remembered  with 
gratitude  all  the  English  blood  that  had  been  shed 
around  Quebec  and  Montreal,  and  who,  with 
nothing  to  hope  for  from  the  Crown,  were  prepared 
to  face  the  most  brutal  mob  violence  and  the  in- 
vectives of  a  scurrilous  Press,  to  risk  their  fortunes, 
their  reputations,  and  sometimes  even  their  lives, 
in  order  to  avert  civil  war  and  ultimate  separation. 
Most  of  them  ended  their  days  in  poverty  and 
exile,  and  as  the  supporters  of  a  beaten  cause  history 
has  paid  but  a  scanty  tribute  to  their  memory, 
but  they  comprised  some  of  the  best  and  ablest 
men  America  has  ever  produced,  and  they  were 
contending  for  an  ideal  which  was  at  least  as  worthy 
as  that  for  which  Washington  fought.  The  main- 
tenance of  one  free,  industrial,  and  pacific  empire, 
comprising  the  whole  English  race,  holding  the 
richest  plains  of  Asia  in  subjection,  blending  all 
that  was  most  venerable  in  an  ancient  civilisation 
with  the  redundant  energies  of  a  youthful  society, 



and  destined  in  a  few  generations  to  outstrip  every 
competitor  and  acquire  an  indisputable  ascendancy 
on  the  globe,  may  have  been  a  dream,  but  it  was 
at  least  a  noble  one,  and  there  were  Americans 
who  were  prepared  to  make  any  personal  sacri- 
fices rather  than  assist  in  destroying  it."1 

Letters,  reports,  and  petitions  at  this  time 
poured  into  the  King's  closet  from  America  to 
assure  him  of  the  fealty  of  Americans  to  the  Crown. 
The  New  York  Assembly  in  June  1775  refused  to 
approve  the  proceedings  of  the  Congress.  The 
Convention  of  Pennsylvania,  dominated  by  the 
Quakers,  denounced  the  very  idea  of  war.  It  re- 
commended that  the  East  India  Company  should 
be  paid  for  the  tea  destroyed,  advocated  obedience 
to  the  Act  of  Navigation,  and  repudiated  emphati- 
cally all  idea  of  independence,  and  expressed  their 
willingness  of  their  own  accord  to  settle  an  annual 
grant  on  the  King  with  the  approbation  of  Parlia- 
ment. Largely  attended  loyalist  meetings  were 
held  in  all  the  Colonies. 

But  the  efforts  of  such  able  loyalists  as  Galloway, 
Dickinson,  and  William  Franklin  were  unequal  to 
cope  with  the  violent  views  of  the  Radicals.  In 
the  second  Congress  Galloway  nearly  triumphed, 
and  we  may  believe  that  had  his  proposition  been 
carried,  it  would  have  been  approved  of  by  the  King 
and  the  way  paved  for  a  peaceable  solution  of  the 
American  problem.  He  asked  that  a  President- 
General  should  be  appointed  by  the  Crown  to  be 
placed  over  the  whole  group  of  Colonies,  while  a 

1   The  Eighteenth  Century,  vol.  iii.  p.  418. 


Grand  Council  with  powers  of  taxation  and  legisla- 
tion on  all  matters  concerning  more  Colonies  than 
one  should  be  elected  by  the  Provincial  Assemblies. 
Of  the  acts  of  this  Grand  Council  the  Imperial 
Parliament  should  have  the  right  of  revision.  At 
the  same  time  the  Council  might  negative  any 
Parliamentary  measure  relating  to  the  Colonies. 
This  scheme,  which  anticipated  in  its  essence  the 
new  colonial  system  which  Britain  was  thereafter  to 
pursue,  was  lost  by  a  single  vote  in  the  Congress ! 

Meanwhile  the  proceedings  of  Samuel  Adams  and 
the  New  Englanders  became  characterised  by  greater 
boldness  and  ingenuity.  An  army  of  12,000  volun- 
teers was  enrolled  in  New  England.  Forty  of 
the  King's  cannon  ^  were  seized,  and  a  small  New 
Hampshire  fort  was  surprised  and  captured. 

Parliament  met  in  January  1775.  It  was 
apparent  that  the  violent  conduct  of  th£  revolution- 
aries had  aroused  deep  indignation.  Yet  Chatham 
and  the  Whig  opposition  did  not  scruple  to 
defend  the  cause  of  the  rebels.  With  singular 
inconsistency  Chatham  urged  that  Britain  had  the 
supreme  right  of  demanding  obedience  to  British  laws, 
and  that  the  Americans  had  an  equal  right  to  disobey 
them.  "  I  shall  ever  contend,"  he  declared,  "  that 
the  Americans  justly  owe  obedience  to  us  and  our 
ordinances  of  trade  and  navigation.  As  to  the 
metaphysical  refinement  of  attempting  to  show  that 
the  Americans  are  equally  free  from  obedience  and 
commercial  restraint  as  from  taxation  for  revenue, 
as  being  unrepresented  here,  I  pronounce  them 
futile,  frivolous,  and  groundless."  Yet  he  extolled 

u  305 


the  Congress,  lauded  the  efforts  of  the  agitators, 
and  demanded  the  instant  repeal  of  all  the  Acts 
by  which  it  was  proposed  that  America  should 
contribute  something  to  the  defence  of  her  part 
of  the  Empire.  "  If  the  Ministers  persevere  in 
misadvising  and  misleading  the  King,  I  will  not 
say  they  could  alienate  the  affections  of  his 
subjects  from  the  Crown,  but  I  will  affirm  that 
they  will  make  the  crown  not  worth  his  wearing. 
I  will  not  say  the  King  is  betrayed,  but  I  will 
pronounce  the  kingdom  is  undone."1 

In  reply  it  was  pointed  out  that  the  British  Par- 
liament possessed  indubitable  legislative  supremacy  : 
inactive  right  was  absurd :  if  the  right  existed  it 
must  be  exerted,  or  for  ever  relinquished.  As  for 
the  Boston  Port  Act,  it  would,  but  for  the  obstinacy 
of  the  people,  have  executed  itself,  and  by  causing 
the  indemnification  of  the  East  India  Company 
have  re-established ,  the  port  and  effected  a  recon- 
ciliation. The  Mother  Country  could  never  in  honour 
relax  till  her  supremacy  was  acknowledged.  To 
give  way  now  would  be  impolitic,  pusillanimous, 
dishonourable.  Rebellious  Americans  were  the  same 
as  rebellious  Englishmen  or  rebellious  Scotsmen. 

1  Debrett's  Debates. 

It  will,  however,  scarcely  be  denied  that  between  the  proceed- 
ings of  Congress  and  a  formal  declaration  of  independence  the 
distance  was  not  great.  The  strength  of  the  King's  position  lay 
in  his  recognition  of  this  fact,  and  on  the  course  which  alone  might 
have  quelled  the  growing  spirit  of  rebellion  without  humiliation  to 
Great  Britain.  The  Opposition  did  not  see  facts  as  they  really 
were,  and  called  for  remedies  which  were  either  vague,  of  various 
import,  insufficient,  or  such  as  would  have  placed  the  Crown  in  a 
humiliating  position. — Hunt  p.  1 59. 


It  was  a  duty,  therefore,  incumbent  on  the  Govern- 
ment to  subdue  rebellion  against  British  laws. 

A  few  weeks  later  Chatham  came  forward 
with  a  Bill  for  settling  the  American  troubles. 
"  Britain  and  America,"  he  said,  "  were  drawn  up  in 
martial  array,  waiting  for  the  signal  to  engage  in 
a  contest  in  which  it  was  little  matter  for  whom 
victory  declared,  as  ruin  and  destruction  must  be 
the  inevitable  consequence  to  both.  He  wished 
to  act  the  part  of  mediator ;  but  had  no  desire  for 
popularity,  no  predilection  for  his  own  country. 
Not  his  high  esteem  for  America  on  one  hand, 
nor  his  unalterable,  steady  regard  for  Great  Britain 
on  the  other,  should  influence  his  conduct." 

The  Bill  he  produced  surrendered  everything  to 
the  Americans  with  the  exception  of  the  Act  of 
Navigation.  He  even  proposed  to  make  the  Phila- 
delphian  Congress  an  official  and  permanent  body, 
supported  by  a  free  grant  out  of  the  Imperial 
exchequer.  The  Earl  was  so  angry  at  the  instant  re- 
jection of  his  measure,  that  he  delivered  a  speech  even 
more  intemperate  than  usual.  Regarding  his  allega- 
tions that  three  millions  of  Americans  were  in  arms, 
<ord  Gower  merely  remarked  that  the  whole  popula- 
tion did  not  exceed  that  number,  one-third  of  whom 
rere  ardent  loyalists,  rendering  obedience  to  British 
LWS.  Had  he  said  that  there  would  never  be  more 
lan  thirty  thousand  revolutionaries  under  arms,  he 
rould  have  been  far  nearer  the  truth. 

Lord  North  moved  an  address  to  the  King,  affirm- 
ig  that  the  province  of  Massachusetts  Bay  was  in 
jbellion,  and  declaring  the  resolution  of  the  House 



not  to  relinquish  any  part  of  the  sovereign  authority, 
vested  by  law  in  the  King  and  the  two  Houses,  over 
every  branch  of  the  Empire.  The  address  expressed 
the  constant  readiness  of  Parliament  to  pay  attention 
to  the  grievances  of  the  subject  when  presented  in 
a  dutiful  and  constitutional  manner.  The  King  was 
requested  to  take  effectual  measures  for  enforcing 
obedience  to  the  laws  and  authority  of  the  supreme 
legislature,  and  in  the  most  solemn  manner  assured 
of  their  fixed  resolution,  at  the  hazard  of  their  lives 
and  property,  to  support  him  against  all  rebellious 
attempts  in  the  maintenance  of  his  just  rights  and 
those  of  the  two  Houses.1 

At  the  same  time  George  was  not  without  a  just 
view  of  the  terrible  sea  of  difficulties  upon  which  he, 
together  with  his  Ministers,  was  now  embarking. 
North,  who  had  already  shown  some  doubt  and 
irresolution  concerning  measures  of  coercion,  by 
expressing  a  willingness  to  repeal  the  tea  tax  if 
such  concession  would  satisfy  the  Americans,  now 
disclaimed  the  taxation  of  America  as  an  act  of  his 
administration,  tracing  it  to  the  Duke  of  Grafton. 
"  If,"  said  he,  "  the  Americans  would  concede  the 
constitutional  right  of  supremacy  to  Great  Britain, 
the  quarrel  would  be  terminated."  After  tumultuous 
debates,  Parliament  decreed  Massachusetts  to  be  in 
a  state  of  rebellion,  voted  six  thousand  men  for 
land  and  sea  service,  and  by  way  of  replying  to 
the  Colonial  boycott  passed  an  Act  restraining 
the  inhabitants  of  most  of  the  Colonies,  save  the 
loyalists,  from  all  trade  with  Britain,  Ireland,  and 

1  Parliamentary  History. 


the  West  Indies,  and  all  participation  in  Newfound- 
land fisheries. 

Parliament  was  now,  as  was  the  nation,  strongly 
in  favour  of  enforcing  American  obedience.  North's 
irresolute  and  conciliatory  tone  was  not  under- 
stood. When  he  introduced  a  further  resolution, 
opening  the  door  to  any  single  Colony  which 
would  promise  to  tax  itself  for  the  common  defence 
of  the  Empire,  and  be  thereby  exempt  from  Imperial 
taxation,  a  revolt  amongst  his  followers  seemed 
imminent.  North's  conduct  was,  we  say,  misunder- 
stood. It  was  not,  however,  the  Minister,  but  the 
King  who  was  extending  the  olive  branch  to  his 
refractory  subjects.  Unaware  of  this,  many  Minis- 
terialists denounced  North's  conciliatory  measure  as 
a  betrayal  of  the  cause.  In  the  midst  of  a  scene 
of  great  confusion  Sir  Gilbert  Elliott  made  it  clear 
that  it  emanated  from  the  King,  and  that  which 
was  threatened  with  defeat  became  acceptable  to 
the  House.  Colonel  Barre  spoke  of  the  new  policy 
as  being  founded  on  the  maxim  Divide  et  imp  era, 
and  as  being  "  a  low,  foolish,  mean  policy." 

North  rose  to  defend  himself  against  the  charge. 
"  Is  it  foolish,  is  it  mean,"  he  said,  "  when  a  people, 
heated  and  misled  by  evil  counsels,  are  running 
into  unlawful  combinations,  to  hold  out  those 
terms  which  will  sift  the  reasonable  from  the  un- 
reasonable, distinguish  those  who  act  upon  principle 
from  those  who  wish  only  to  profit  by  the  general 
confusion  and  ruin  ?  If  propositions  that  the  con- 
scientious and  the  prudent  will  accept  will,  at 
the  same  time,  recover  them  from  the  influence 



and  fascination  of  the  wicked,  I  avow  the  use  of 
that  principle,  which  will  thus  divide  the  good 
from  the  bad,  and  give  aid  and  support  to  the 
friends  of  peace  and  good  government."  Had  it 
only  been  possible  to  make  these  distinctions  in 
America,  to  sift  the  well-affected  from  the  disloyal 
and  the  opportunists,  not  by  Colonies,  but  through- 
out the  community  at  large,  the  result  might  have 
been  different. 

To  North  George  wrote :  "  Where  violence  is 
with  resolution  repelled  it  commonly  yields.  And 
I  own,  though  a  thorough  friend  to  holding  out 
the  olive  branch,  I  have  not  the  smallest  doubt 
that  if  it  does  not  succeed,  that  when  once  vigorous 
measures  appear  to  be  the  only  means  left  of 
bringing  the  Americans  to  a  due  submission  to  the 
Mother  Country,  that  the  Colonies  will  submit.  I 
return  also,"  he  adds,  "  the  foolish  anonymous  letter 
[one  threatening  his  life] ;  any  of  that  nature  I 
equally  despise  whilst  I  have  nothing  to  lay  to  my 
charge.  I  entirely  place  my  security  in  the  pro- 
tection of  the  Divine  Disposer  of  all  things,  and 
shall  never  look  to  the  right  or  left,  but  steadily 
pursue  the  track  which  my  conscience  dictates  to 
be  the  right  one." 

As  for  the  King's  conciliatory  policy,  it  deserved 
a  better  fate.  It  was  a  sincere,  manly  attempt  to 
save  the  unity  of  the  Empire.  Dartmouth  forwarded 
the  resolution  of  Parliament  to  the  Governors  of ! 
the  American  Colonies  in  March.  He  argued  that 
the  Colonies  owed  much  of  their  greatness  to 
English  protection,  that  it  was  but  justice  that 


they  should  in  their  turn  contribute  according  to 
their  respective  abilities  to  the  common  defence, 
and  that  their  own  welfare  and  interests  demanded 
that  their  civil  establishments  should  be  supported 
with  a  becoming  dignity.  Parliament,  he  says, 
leaves  each  Colony  "  to  judge  of  the  ways  and  means 
of  making  due  provision  for  these  purposes,  reserving 
to  itself  a  discretionary  power  of  approving  or  dis- 
approving what  shall  be  offered."  It  would  de- 
termine nothing  about  the  specific  sum  to  be 
raised,  the  King  trusting  that  adequate  provision 

rould  be  made  by  the  Colonies,  and  that  it  would 
proposed  in  such  a  way  as  to  increase  or  diminish 

wording   as  the  public   burthens   of  Britain   were 
>m  time  to  time  augmented  or  reduced,  in  so  far 
those  burthens  consist  of  taxes  and  duties  which 
ire  not  a  security  for  the  National  Debt.     By  such 
mode    of   contribution,   he    adds,    "the    Colonies 

rill   have   full    security    that   they    can    never    be 
[uired    to    tax    themselves     without    Parliament 

ixing  the  subjects  of  this  kingdom  in  a  far  greater 
>roportion."  He  assured  them  that  any  proposal 
)f  this  nature  from  any  Colony  would  be  received 

rith  every  possible  indulgence,  provided  it  was 
inaccompanied  by  declarations  inconsistent  with 

parliamentary  authority.1 

Dartmouth's  letter  had  hardly  time  to  arrive 
in  America  ere  bloodshed  began.  Between  the 
two  villages  of  Lexington  and  Concord  a  small 

Iritish  force  sent  out  by  General  Gage  to  capture 

1  Documents  relating  to  the  Colonial   History  of  New  York,  viii. 


a  rebel  magazine  was  fired  on  by  the  American 
militia.  When  on  the  19th  April  1775  night  fell  65 
British  soldiers  had  been  killed,  180  wounded,  and 
28  made  prisoners.  The  war  had  begun.  Thou- 
sands of  the  population  either  flew  to  arms  or  were 
compelled  to  bear  them.  The  loyalists  were  robbed 
of  their  weapons,  and  Gage  found  himself  blockaded 
in  Boston.  Then  followed  the  small  but  bloody 
battle  of  Bunker's  Hill,  where  the  British  only  carried 
the  day  after  a  determined  resistance.  This  en- 
gagement was  a  revelation  to  many  of  the  martial 
qualities  and  indoniitability  of  the  rebel  Americans, 
and  showed  the  difficulties  which  lay  in  the  path  ol 
the  loyalists. 

After  these  events,  it  was  inevitable  that  th< 
King's  conciliatory  offer  would  be  scornfully  re- 
jected. Congress  met  and  drew  up  another  petition, 
in  which  loyalty  to  King  George,  it  may  be  noted, 
was  still  expressed,  and  further  addresses  to  the 
people.  It  proceeded  to  organise  an  army,  ap- 
pointing Colonel  George  Washington  to  the  post  of 
commander-in-chief.  An  invasion  of  Canada  was 
also  planned  and  entrusted  to  an  Irish  colonel 
named  Montgomery,  assisted  by  Benedict  Arnold. 
The  invasion  failed  largely  owing  to  Governor 
Carleton's  efforts.  Montgomery  was  killed,  and 
the  American  troops  were  forced  to  evacuate  Canada. 
By  this  time  Gage  had  been  recalled  from  Boston, 
and  Sir  William  Howe  appointed  his  successor. 




ALTHOUGH  the  Imperial  Government  had  the  support 
of  the  British  nation  at  large,  yet  an  active  and  tur- 
bulent minority  was  still  much  in  evidence.  The 
Livery  of  London  forced  on  the  King  an  address 
denouncing  the  whole  policy  of  the  Ministry  towards 
America.  George's  answer  testified  his  astonish- 
ment that  any  of  his  subjects  should  encourage  the 
rebellious  disposition  existing  in  America.  Rely- 
ing, however,  on  the  wisdom  of  Parliament,  the 
great  Council  of  the  nation,  he  said,  would  steadily 
pursue  the  measures  it  recommended  for  support  of 
the  constitutional  rights  and  protection  of  the  com- 

erce  of  Great  Britain. 
The  municipal  malcontents  next  prayed  the  King 

at  he  would  make  the  hostilities  cease  between 
Great  Britain  and  America,  and  restore  peace  to  the 
British  Empire.  With  great  dignity  George  read 
his  reply.  The  country  was  placed  in  a  dilemma, 
and  must  either  continue  the  hostile  measures,  or 
relinquish  all  claim  over  the  Colonies,  in  which 
case  they  would  instantly  lose  the  West  Indies  and 
footing  on  the  North  American  continent. 
"  I  am  always  ready  to  listen  to  the  dutiful 
petitions  of  my  subjects,  and  ever  happy  to  comply 


with  their  reasonable  requests ;  but  while  the  con- 
stitutional authority  of  this  kingdom  is  openly  re- 
sisted by  a  part  of  my  American  subjects,  I  owe  it 
to  the  rest  of  my  people,  of  whose  zeal  and  fidelity 
I  have  had  such  constant  proofs,  to  continue  and 
enforce  those  measures  by  which  alone  their  rights  : 
and  interests  can  be  asserted  and  maintained." 

A    few    days    after    this    interview    the    Lord ; 
Chamberlain    signified    to    the    Lord    Mayor    the ! 
King's  determination  not  to  receive,  on  the  throne,  j 
any   address,    remonstrance,    or    petition    from   the 
body    corporate.      Wilkes   saw   in    this    an    oppor- 
tunity of  raising  a  new  contest.     In  a  long  letter 
he  insisted  on  the  right  of  the  City,  "  a  right  which  ! 
even  the  accursed  race  of  Stuarts  had  respected,  to 
present  petitions  to  the  King   on  the   throne ;  and 
hoped  that  a  privilege  left  uninvaded  by  every  tyrant  i 
of  the   Tarquin   race  would   be   sacredly   preserved 
under  a  Prince  of  the  House  of  Brunswick,  whose 
family   was    chosen  to    protect   the    liberties    of  a 
free  people  whom  the  Stuarts   had  endeavoured  to 

A  correspondence  took  place  between  the  Lord 
Mayor  and  the  Lord  Chamberlain,  and  the  sheriffs 
instructed  to  inquire  when  the  King  would  receive  I 
on   the  throne   an   address,  presented  by   the  Lord 
Mayor,  the   city  members,  the  court   of  aldermen, ! 
sheriffs,  and  livery.     George  named  the  next  levee,  I 
whereupon    Plomer,    one   of   the   sheriffs,    said   the| 
livery  were  resolved   not  to   present   it  unless   the 
King   would   receive  it  sitting  on  the  throne.     "  I 
am  ever  ready,"  was  George's  rejoinder,  "  to  receive ! 


addresses  and  petitions,  but  I  am  the  judge  where." 
The  city  malcontents  were  silenced. 

All  the  speeches  and  petitions  of  the  British 
factions  were  carefully  reported  and  forwarded  to 
America,  and  naturally  gave  great  comfort  to  the 
enemies  of  the  Empire.  They  heard  little  or 
nothing  of  the  loyal  addresses,  unsolicited  and  un- 
expected, which  were  sent  from  all  parts  of  the 

The  historian  Gibbon,  in  a  letter  dated  14th 
October  1775,  says:  "Another  thing  that  will 
please  and  surprise,  is  the  assurance  which  I  received 
from  a  man,  who  might  tell  me  a  lie,  but  who 
uld  not  be  mistaken,  that  no  arts  or  management 
hatsoever  have  been  used  to  procure  the  ad- 
dresses which  fill  the  Gazette,  and  that  Lord  North 
was  as  much  surprised  at  the  first  that  came  up 
as  we  could  be  at  Sheffield." 

The  American  rebellion,  or  revolution  as  it  should 
now  be  called,  awakened  great  interest  throughout 
Europe.  All  intercourse  between  the  Americans 
and  the  States  of  the  Empire  was  strictly  pro- 
hibited. In  an  audience  given  to  the  British  Am- 
bassador, the  Emperor  Joseph  II.  strongly  expressed 
his  opinion  of  the  justice  of  the  English  proceedings, 
his  high  sense  of  the  personal  worth  of  the  King,  and 
a  conviction  that  success  in  reducing  the  American 
rebels  was  of  the  utmost  importance  to  all  the 
regular  Governments  in  Europe.  "  The  cause  in 
which  the  King  is  engaged,"  he  said,  "  is  in  fact  the 
cause  of  all  sovereigns ;  they  have  a  joint  interest 
in  maintaining  a  just  subordination  and  obedience 


to  law  in  all  the  monarchies  which  surround  them. 
He  saw  with  pleasure  the  vigorous  exertions  of 
national  strength  which  the  King  was  employing  to 
reduce  his  rebellious  subjects,  and  sincerely  wished 
success  to  those  measures."  The  empress  queen 
expressed,  with  no  less  warmth,  her  determination 
to  maintain  the  good  understanding  between  the 
two  Crowns,  and  to  prohibit  all  transactions  by 
which  her  subjects  should  seem  to  afford  assistance 
to  the  Colonies,  or  give  umbrage  to  England.  She 
had  a  high  esteem,  she  said,  for  the  King's  principles 
of  government,  a  sincere  veneration  for  his  political 
character,  and  a  hearty  desire  to  see  obedience  and 
tranquillity  restored  to  every  quarter  of  his  dominions. 
Her  friendship  for  him,  and  hereditary  affection  for 
the  royal  family,  had  never  abated,  although  a  dif- 
ference in  political  opinions,  the  source  of  which  she 
could  not  help  attributing  to  the  King  of  Prussia, 
had  for  a  considerable  time  diminished  the  oppor- 
tunities of  an  interchange  of  good  offices.1 

Frederick  the  Great  was  highly  delighted  at 
the  turn  affairs  had  taken.  The  loss  of  his  sub- 
sidy from  England,  which  had  largely  enabled  him 
to  retain  his  place  in  Europe  at  a  critical  time, 
destroyed  every  sentiment  of  gratitude  in  his 
bosom.  He  courted  France  and  Russia,  intrigued 
with  Vienna,  and  sympathised  with  America,  although 
he  did  not  openly  avow  his  feelings  towards  that 

In  this  fateful  autumn  the  King's  Speech  was 
chiefly  devoted  to  American  affairs.  He  told 

1  Adolphus,  vol.  iii.  pp.  317-18. 



Parliament  that  those  who  had  too  successfully 
laboured  to  inflame  the  people,  by  gross  misre- 
presentations, now  openly  avowed  their  revolt, 
hostility,  and  rebellion.  They  had  raised  troops, 
and  were  collecting  a  naval  force ;  they  had  seized 
the  public  revenue,  and  assumed  to  themselves 
legislative,  executive,  and  judicial  powers,  which 
they  exercised  in  the  most  arbitrary  manner  over 
the  persons  and  properties  of  their  fellow-subjects. 
Although  many  might  still  retain  their  loyalty, 
and  be  too  wise  not  to  see  the  fatal  consequence 
of  this  usurpation  and  wish  to  resist  it,  yet  the 
torrent  of  violence  had  been  strong  enough  to 
compel  their  acquiescence  till  a  sufficient  force 
should  appear  for  their  support.  The  authors  and 
promoters  of  this  desperate  conspiracy  had  derived 
great  advantage  from  the  difference  of  the  King's 
intentions  and  their  own.  They  meant  only  to 
amuse  by  vague  expressions  of  attachment  to  the 
parent  State  and  protestations  of  loyalty,  while  pre- 
paring for  a  general  revolt.  On  his  part,  though 
it  was  declared  in  the  last  session  that  a  rebellion 
existed  in  Massachusetts,  yet  even  that  province 
he  wished  rather  to  reclaim  than  subdue.  The 
ar  was  become  more  general,  and  was  manifestly 
Tried  on  for  the  establishment  of  an  independent 
pire.  It  was  now  the  part  of  wisdom  and  real 
clemency  to  put  a  speedy  end  to  such  disorders. 
He  had  received  the  most  friendly  offers  of  foreign 
assistance ;  and  had  sent  to  the  garrisons  of  Gib- 
raltar and  Port  Mahon  part  of  his  Electoral  troops, 
hat  a  larger  portion  of  the  British  forces  might 

3*7   ' 


be  applied  in  maintaining  its  authority ;  and  the 
national  militia  might  give  a  further  extent  and 
activity  to  military  operations.1 

The  incapacity  of  Gage,  who,  as  we  have  seen, 
had  been  recalled,  was  matched  by  that  of  the 
naval  commander  Graves.  He  actually  allowed 
the  whaleboats  of  the  rebels  to  intercept  supplies 
and  destroy  lighthouses,  scarce  making  an  attempt 
against  them.  This  placid  inertia  at  a  time  when 
vigorous  action  was  imperative  greatly  displeased 
the  King.  "  I  do  think,"  he  wrote  North,  "  the  ad- 
miral's removal  as  necessary  as  the  mild  general's." 2 

The  greatest  difficulty  the  King  had  to  encounter 
next  to  obtaining  competent  leaders  was  a  sufficient 
supply  of  soldiers.  Vast  as  were  the  British  domin- 
ions, the  entire  army  on  a  peace  establishment  was 
but  little  more  than  38,000  men,  including  the  army 
of  15,000  in  Ireland,  3500  in  Gibraltar,  and  2500  in 
Minorca.  He  had  persistently  urged  that  the  Empire 
could  not  adequately  be  guarded  by  so  small  a 
force,  but  public  opinion  and  the  traditional  jealousy 
of  a  standing  army  made  North  and  his  colleagues 
loath  to  increase  the  estimates.  George  himself 
suggested  drafting  2355  of  his  Hanoverian  troops 
to  garrison  Gibraltar  and  Minorca,  and  so  render 
the  garrisons  there  available  for  service  in  America. 
But  this  was  not  enough;  troops  were  needed  at 

1  Parliamentary  History. 

2  Letters  to  Lord  North,  vol.  i.  256. 

Every  matter  connected  with  the  war  was  directed  by  the 
King.  His  industry  and  his  knowledge  of  details,  military  and 
naval,  were  extraordinary. — Hunt,  Political  History  of  England, 
p.  153. 


>nce,  and  if  they  could  not  be  obtained  in  Britain, 
it  was  necessary  to  engage  them  elsewhere.  He 
tendered  an  offer  for  the  Brigade  of  Scots,  then  in 
the  service  of  Holland,  but  the  offer  was  refused.  A 
similar  proposal  was  made  to  Catherine  of  Russia, 
but  without  more  success.  To  raise  the  required 
troops  at  short  notice  was  a  difficult  task.  In  Jan- 
uary 1776  Lord  Barrington  warned  the  King  that 
Scotland  had  never  yet  been  so  bare  of  troops, 
and  that  those  in  England  were  too  few  for  the 
security  of  the  country.  The  new  land  tax  was 
raised  to  fourpence  in  the  pound.  But  higher 
bounties  failed  to  tempt  the  men.  Recruiting 
agents  traversed  the  Highlands  of  Scotland  and  the 
remote  districts  of  Ireland.  The  poor  Catholics 
of  Munster  and  Connaught,  who  had  been  so  long 
excluded  from  the  English  army,  were  gladly  wel- 
comed.1 But  enlistments  were  tardy.  There  seemed 
little  enthusiasm  to  fight  their  own  kin.  The  press- 
gangs  were  fiercely  resisted.  Conscription  alone 
could  raise  the  much-needed  army  in  England ;  no 
Minister  would  dare  then  to  propose  conscription. 

Such  being  the  situation,  George  was  greatly 
relieved  when  three  German  rulers,  the  Duke  of 
Brunswick,  the  Landgrave  of  Hesse-Cassel,  and  the 
Prince  of  Waldeck,  agreed  to  furnish  him  with 
nearly  18,000  men.  The  plan  of  committing  the 
custody  of  British  garrisons  to  foreign  troops  was 
hotly  denounced  by  the  Opposition  when  Parliament 
met  as  illegal.  It  was  a  precedent  of  most  alarm- 
ing and  dangerous  tendency,  recognising  a  power  in 

1  Lecky,  vol.  iii.  pp.  456-7. 


the  King  to  introduce  foreigners  into  the  British 
dominions,  and  raise  armies  without  the  consent  of 
Parliament.  Thurlow's  reply  to  this  was  that  the 
clause  in  the  Bill  of  Rights  embraced  no  part  of 
the  King's  dominions  beyond  the  limits  of  Great 
Britain.  The  necessity  of  the  case  and  danger  of 
delay  were  pointed  to,  and  the  introduction  of  six 
thousand  Dutch  troops  in  1745,  without  previous 
consent,  furnished  a  precedent. 

At  the  end  of  October  North  brought  in  a  Bill 
enabling  the  King  to  assemble  the  militia  in  cases  of 
rebellion,  which  passed.  In  the  course  of  the  debates, 
Lord  Montagu  expressed  a  wish  to  see  a  militia  in 
North  Britain.  This  was  too  much  for  Dunning. 
"  A  noble  lord,"  he  cried,  "  has  touched  upon  another 
militia ; — a  militia  to  be  composed  of  a  different  set 
of  people,  a  northern  militia  !  From  the  manner  in 
which  the  intimation  is  given,  I  take  for  granted  the 
plan  is  determined,  and  that  it  is  one  of  the  measures 
which  are,  at  present,  so  rapidly  combined.  It  is 
curious  to  observe  what  are  the  auxiliaries  called  to 
the  assistance  of  the  British  constitution — Catholics 
from  Canada  ;  Irish  Papists ;  a  new  militia  in  Eng- 
land, very  differently  composed  from  the  old  one ;  a 
Scotch  militia,  of  a  description  that  I  will  not  name. 
Hanoverian  mercenaries  are  to  garrison  the  two 
principal  fortresses  in  the  Mediterranean ;  and,  to 
crown  the  whole,  twenty  thousand  Russians.  They 
are  not  to  be  sent  to  America;  therefore  we  may 
presume  they  are  to  be  brought  here,  to  protect  the 
legislative  authority  of  this  country." 

An  answer  to  this  diatribe  was  made  by  Rigby, 


who  denied  that  the  Government  had  any  intention 
of  bringing  Russians  into  Britain.  Whenever,  he 
said,  war  demanded  foreign  auxiliaries,  they  had  been 
obtained  from  various  countries.  The  last  war  saw 
Wolfenbiittlers,  Hessians,  Hanoverians,  and  many 
other  people  in  the  British  service.  "There  was  a 
Britannic  legion,  which  consisted  of  all  the  thieves 
in  Europe.  The  learned  member,"  proceeded  Rigby, 
"enters  very  logically  into  the  distinctions  of  re- 
bellion. He  detests  that  of  1745,  but  likes  the 
present  passing  well.  For  my  part,  although  I  think 
there  is  but  one  kind  of  rebellion,  I  cannot  carry  my 
resentments  so  far  back  ;  for  whenever  the  Americans 
shall  return  to  their  duty,  I  shall  not  consider  them 
as  deserving  of  my  hatred."  Eventually  the  land 
forces  were  fixed  at  55,000,  of  whom  25,000  were 
for  American  service,  those  of  the  navy  at  28,000. 

It  was  perhaps  natural  that  the  disaffected 
Americans  should  seize  upon  the  employment  of 
German  auxiliaries  as  a  terrible  grievance.  To  listen 
to  the  impassioned  shrieks  of  their  orators,  one  would 
have  thought  that  King  George  was  "delivering  a 
loyal  people  to  be  massacred  by  foreign  mercenaries." 
As  a  matter  of  fact  they  were  making  war  on  the 
King,  and  he  had  as  good  a  right  to  buy  troops  to 

<&ht  his  quarrel  as  he  had  to  buy  cannon."  1 
One  cannot  but  note  regretfully  the  half-hearted- 
ness  with  which  throughout  the  whole  struggle  the 
British  officers  and  men  engaged  in  the  American 
war.  This  half-heartedness  was  partly  shared  by 
the  British  people,  and  we  need  seek  no  further 

1  Hunt,  Political  History  of  England,  p.  154. 

X  321 


reason  than  the  fact  that  it  was  a  civil  war.  In 
Parliament  we  find  the  nature  of  civil  wars,  and 
the  propriety  of  professional  activity  by  military 
commanders  when  their  opinions  were  repugnant 
to  the  service,  frankly  canvassed.  Lord  Howe,  Sir 
William's  brother,  declared  he  did  not  conceive 
any  struggle  so  painful  as  that  between  his  duty 
as  an  officer  and  as  a  man.  If  left  to  his  choice, 
he  certainly  should  decline  to  serve  ;  but  if  com- 
manded, it  was  his  duty,  and  he  should  not  refuse 
to  obey.  Conway  foolishly  urged  a  difference  be- 
tween a  foreign  war,  where  the  whole  community 
was  involved,  and  a  domestic  war  on  points  of 
civil  contention,  wherein  the  community  was 
divided.  "  In  the  first  case,  no  officer  ought  to 
call  in  question  the  justice  of  his  country ;  in 
the  latter,  a  military  man,  before  he  drew  his  sword 
against  his  fellow-subjects,  ought  to  examine  his 
conscience  whether  the  cause  was  just." 

Thurlow,  with  righteous  indignation,  denounced 
such  sentiments.  "  Let  the  honourable  gentleman," 
he  said,  "justify  his  conscience  to  himself,  but  not 
hold  it  out  as  a  point  of  doctrine  to  be  taken  up 
in  a  quarter  and  line  of  service  where  his  opinions 
might  be  supposed  to  have  great  influence,  for  if 
once  established  as  doctrine,  they  must  tend  to  a 
dissolution  of  government." 

Sir     William     Howe    was     a    Whig,    privately 
sympathising  with  the  American  rebels.     It  was  im 
possible  that  this  private  sympathy  should  not  inter 
fere  with  his  vigour  in  campaigning  against  them.  The 
King  wished   Howe  to  abandon  Boston  and  repair 


to  Long  Island,  where  he  could  receive  the  expected 
reinforcements  and  capture  New  York.  Howe 
replied  that  he  had  not  sufficient  transports,  and 
preferred  to  winter  in  Boston.  Yet  even  during 
his  sojourn  in  Boston  at  any  time  he  could  have 
fallen  upon  Washington  and  wiped  out  the  Colonial 
army.  He  preferred  instead  to  allow  himself  to 
be  gradually  enclosed  by  the  enemy.  No  wonder 
Washington  was  astonished !  The  latter  seized 
and  fortified  Dorchester  Heights,  which  effectually 
commanded  Boston,  and  still  Howe  made  no  shadow 
of  resistance.  When  the  cannonading  grew  too 
severe,  on  17th  March  1776  the  unspeakable  British 
commander  with  his  whole  army  and  2000  miser- 
able loyalists  evacuated  Boston  and  sailed  for  Hali- 
fax. Usually  on  evacuation  no  ammunition  or 
supplies  are  left  behind  for  the  enemy.  Howe 
thoughtfully  left  to  the  rebels  two  hundred  cannon, 
vast  quantities  of  powder  and  lead,  thousands  of 
muskets,  and  various  military  stores.  "  General 
Howe,"  declared  one  of  the  "  patriots,"  "  is  a  good 
friend  to  America."  Britain  had  left  the  New 
England  loyalists  to  their  fate. 

The  notion  of  independence,  which  had  already 
gained  much  ground,  received  a  great  impetus  from 
a  widely  circulated  anonymous  pamphlet  called 
"  Common  Sense."  This  production  of  the  notori- 
ous Thomas  Paine,  an  Englishman  by  birth,  a  stay- 
maker  by  training,  and  a  revolutionary  by  trade, 
hostile  to  Britain  and  monarchy,  first  appeared  in 
January  1776,  a  few  months  after  Paine  had  arrived 
in  America.  No  fewer  than  100,000  copies  were 



circulated.  Washington  described  it  as  working  a 
powerful  change  in  the  minds  of  many  men. 
According  to  Paine,  England  is  "  that  barbarous 
and  hellish  power  which  hath  stirred  up  the  Indians 
and  negroes  to  destroy  us."  The  lingering  attach- 
ment to  her  he  ridiculed  as  mere  local  prejudice. 
Not  one-third  part  of  the  inhabitants,  even  of 
Pennsylvania,  he  said,  were  of  English  descent ;  and 
the  Americans  were  recommended  to  put  to  death 
as  traitors  all  their  countrymen  who  were  taken  in 
arms  for  the  King.  No  more  suitable  moment,  in 
Paine's  opinion,  could  be  found  for  complete  separa- 
tion from  the  Empire.  And  he  was  right. 

Schism  was  rapidly  forwarded  from  other  causes. 
The  Governor  of  Virginia,  Lord  Dunmore,  had  been 
obliged  in  June  1775  to  take  refuge  on  board  a 
man-of-war.  Afterwards  Dunmore  manned  a  small 
flotilla,  and  with  the  ardent  co-operation  of  the 
loyalists  endeavoured  to  bring  the  rebels  back  to 
their  allegiance,  besides  offering  freedom  to  the  ! 
slaves  and  inviting  help  from  the  Indians.  In  his 
war  upon  the  rebels  he  made  several  descents  upon 
the  coast,  which  vigorous  measures  roused  the 
Virginian  patriots  to  fury,  and  made  those  who  had 
formerly  hesitated  about  independence  now  fall 
into  line. 

George  had  received  assurances  that  separation 
would  be  strongly  combated  by  the  Southern 
loyalists.  The  Governors  of  North  and  South 
Carolina  were  convinced  that  if  a  sufficient  force 
were  despatched  to  their  provinces  the  loyalists  would 
be  encouraged  to  rise  and  the  whole  south  reclaimed 


for  the  King.  But  delay  and  ineptitude  brought 
ruin  to  the  project.  Clinton  and  Parker  failed 
ignominiously  in  their  attempt  to  take  Charleston. 
Their  failure  and  their  folly  dismayed  the  loyalists. 
The  rebels  were  proportionately  elated,  and  only  a 
few  days  after  the  Carolinian  fiasco,  on  July  4th  the 
thirteen  Colonies  as  represented  in  the  Philadelphia!! 
Congress  issued  their  celebrated  Declaration  of 

Before  we  consider  the  actual  schism  and  the 
character  of  the  amazing  production  which  publicly 
announced  it  to  the  world,  we  have  to  note  certain 
changes  amongst  the  King's  advisers.  Grafton 
having  resigned  the  Privy  Seal  was  succeeded  by 
Dartmouth.  Conway  also  abandoned  his  colleagues. 
Lord  Rochford  retired,  and  was  succeeded  by  Viscount 
Weymouth.  Dartmouth's  former  post  of  Secretary 
of  State  for  America  was  given  to  Lord  George 
Germain,  who  now  appears  on  the  busy  scene. 

Germain  was  an  unpopular  man.  As  Lord 
George  Sackville  he  had  in  the  preceding  reign 
been  charged  with  cowardice  at  the  battle  of 
Minden.  He  had  demanded  a  court-martial  to 
enquire  into  his  conduct,  and  this  body,  unfairly, 
it  may  be,  declared  him  incapable  of  any  further 
military  employment.  The  sentence  was  enforced 
with  asperity  by  George  II.,  and  Lord  George's 
name  struck  off  the  list  of  Privy  Councillors. 
Many  believed  that  this  verdict  of  the  court- 
martial  was  an  act  of  gross  injustice.  At  this  time 
Germain  had  completed  his  sixty-fifth  year.  He 
was  six  feet  tall,  and  vigorous  in  mind  and  body  ; 



an  air  of  high  birth  and  dignity  illuminated  by  strong 
sense  pervaded  every  lineament  of  his  face.  His 
countenance  indicated  intellect,  particularly  his  eye, 
the  motions  of  which  were  "quick  and  piercing." 
On  first  acquaintance  his  manner  and  air  impressed 
those  who  approached  him  with  an  idea  of  proud 
reserve  ;  no  man  in  private  society  unbent  himself 
more  or  manifested  less  self-importance.1 

The  resemblance  of  this  portrait  in  many  respects 
to  that  of  Lord  Bute  will  strike  the  reader.  At  all 
events  the  King  was  impressed  at  first  by  Germain's 
ability.  The  plaudits  of  the  unthinking  multitude 
weighed  with  him  not  at  all  in  making  choice  of  his 

The  speech  terminating  the  session  at  the  close 
of  May  1776  represented  Britain  as  engaged  in  a 
great  national  cause,  the  prosecution  of  which  must 
inevitably  be  attended  with  many  difficulties  and 
much  expense.  Considering  that  the  essential  rights 
and  interests  of  the  whole  Empire  were  deeply 
concerned,  and  no  safety  or  security  could  be  found 
but  in  the  constitutional  subordination  contended  for, 
no  price  could  be  too  high  for  the  preservation 
of  such  objects.  The  King  said  he  still  entertained 
hopes  that  his  rebellious  subjects  might  be  awakened 
to  a  sense  of  their  errors,  and  by  a  voluntary  return 
to  duty  justify  him  in  bringing  about  the  favourite 
wish  of  his  heart,  the  restoration  of  harmony,  and 
re-establishment  of  order  and  happiness  in  every  part 
of  his  dominions. 

George  also  informed  Parliament  that  no  altera- 

1  Wraxall,  Memoirs. 


tion  had  happened  in  the  state  of  foreign  affairs  since 
he  last  spoke  from  the  throne,  and  dwelt  with 
pleasure  on  the  assurances  of  the  European  Powers, 
which  promised  a  continuance  of  tranquillity.  To 
rely  implicitly  on  such  promises  or  appearances  just 
then,  when  Great  Britain  was  engaging  in  a 
formidable  and  extensive  civil  war,  would  have 
been  extremely  imprudent.  Tokens  of  amity  from 
rival  Powers,  taught  by  traditional  hostility  to  con- 
sider each  other  as  enemies,  would  at  any  time  be 
regarded  with  suspicion ;  on  the  present  occasion 
there  was  the  positive  boast  of  the  Americans  that 
they  could  obtain  foreign  assistance.  The  conclusion 
of  the  last  war,  so  mortifying  to  the  French  pride, 
rendered  it  not  unlikely  that  the  Courts  of  France 
and  Spain  would  do  their  utmost  secretly  to  widen 
the  breach  between  Britain  and  her  Colonies.  If 
hostilities  continued  they  might  take  an  active  part. 
Meanwhile  France  or  Spain  would  secretly  assist 
the  Americans,  awaiting  the  time  when  the  resources 
and  strength  of  each  party  were  clearly  manifested.1 

To  prove  George's  real  desire  for  peace  he  put  no 
obstacle  in  the  way  of  the  appointment  of  General 
Howe's  brother,  Admiral  Howe,  as  naval  com- 
mander in  America,  although  his  strong  Whig 
opinions  were  also  no  secret.  More  than  this,  he 
consented  that  the  two  brothers  should  be  nominated 
as  Commissioners  under  the  Prohibitory  Bill.  George 
indeed  feared,  as  he  wrote  North,  that  Lord  Howe 
was  not  the  proper  man  for  such  a  post.  But  he  did 
not,  alas,  press  his  objections  ! 

1  Adolphus,  vol.  ii.  pp.  313-14. 



Howe  set  sail  for  America  with  large  reinforce- 
ments and  offers  of  pardon  in  his  pocket.  When  he 
joined  his  brother,  the  general,  at  Staten  Island,  near 
New  York,  couriers  were  flying  all  over  the  thirteen 
Colonies,  and  copies^  of  the  Declaration  of  Independ- 
ence were  being  scattered  broadcast. 

Of  this  document  we  may  say  with  Adolphus, 
that  "at  no  preceding  period  of  history  was  so  im- 
portant a  transaction  vindicated  by  so  shallow  and 
feeble  a  composition."  It  came  from  the  pen  of 
Thomas  Jefferson,  the  arch-demagogue  in  American 
history.  George  III.  was  singled  out  for  a  display 
of  malevolence  unexampled  in  any  political  revolu- 
tion in  the  history  of  the  world.  Although  Franklin, 
who  had  better  reason  than  most  to  know  him,  called 
him  "the  best  of  kings,"  although  his  personal  and 
public  benevolence  and  honesty  of  purpose  should 
have  been  patent  to  all  his  subjects,  he  was  denounced 
in  terms  which  would  have  been  unjust  and  ex- 
aggerated if  used  of  Tarquin,  of  Nero,  or  of  Borgia. 

The  crudity  and  violence  of  the  language  of  the 
Declaration  should  have  alienated  every  right- 
thinking  man,  and  the  number  of  loyalists  were 
certainly  increased.  Nevertheless,  as  Mr.  Fisher 
observes,  "  The  Declaration  gave  the  patriots  a  rally- 
ing point ;  it  showed  their  purpose,  interested  the 
French  king,  and  was  a  basis  for  his  action  when  a 
victory  convinced  him  of  the  advisability  of  an 
alliance."  "It  was  probably  well,"  he  adds,  "to 
declare  independence  as  soon  as  possible  after  what 
seemed  to  be  our  distinct  success,  because  it  was  a 
long  time  before  we  had  another,  and  we  never  had 



one  which  at  once  put  all  the  British  troops  out  of 
the  country."1 

The  Declaration  was  accompanied  by  insults  to 
the  King,  his  name  and  features  were  effaced  in  all 
public  places,  and  in  New  York  an  equestrian  statue 
erected  in  1770  was  thrown  down  and  melted.  The 
word  "  royal "  and  the  sign  of  the  crown  were 
generally  suppressed.  Lord  Howe  had  delivered  his 
message  too  late.  It  is  the  opinion  of  some  that  if 
the  King's  offer  could  have  been  tendered  a  few  days 
before  the  Declaration  of  Independence  the  majority 
of  Congress  might  have  felt  themselves  bound  to 
accede  to  them  as  a  secure  and  honourable  basis  of 
pacification.  But  now  the  American  commissioners 
would  not  treat  except  on  the  basis  of  independence. 

After  the  failure  of  the  commissioners  Howe 
enjoyed  several  successes  over  the  rebels,  which,  had 
he  followed  up,  might  have  led  to  decisive  results. 
But  after  gaining  a  victory  he  allowed  Washington 
to  escape,  and  the  chance  never  recurred.  On  Sep- 
tember 15th  the  British  took  possession  of  New  York, 
and  the  Americans  fled  in  confusion,  leaving  their 
guns  behind. 

The  news  of  Howe's  victories  greatly  encouraged 
the  loyalists  and  delighted  the  King.  George  followed 
every  detail  of  the  campaign,  every  movement  of 
the  commanders,  with  the  strongest  interest.  He 
had  large  maps  of  the  Colonies  specially  prepared, 
showing  the  disposition  of  the  troops  according  to 
the  latest  despatches.  It  is  no  more  than  true  to 
say  that  the  King  himself  planned  the  campaign. 

1  The  American  Revolution,  p.  298. 



Had   his    generals    followed    his    instructions    there 
would  have  been  more  victories  and  fewer  defeats  to 
chronicle.     We  know  now  that  it  was  his  idea  that 
Sir  Guy  Carleton  should  invade  the  province  of  New 
York  from   Canada  and  join  Howe  to  the  south.1 
But  Carleton  found  his  way  blocked  by  Fort  Ticon- 
deroga,  and   as   winter  approached  he   returned   to 
Quebec.     Carleton's  whole  mind  and  energies  were  j 
directed  to  defending  Canada.     He  had  succeeded  in  j 
driving  out  the  Americans,  and  he  desired  to  run  no 
risk  with  his  army  that  would  endanger  the  hold  he 
had  so  manfully  secured  on  his  province.     Besides,  he  | 
had  reason  to  distrust  Germain's  intentions  towards 
himself.     The  Colonial  Secretary  showed  a  personal 
animosity  to  Carleton,  and  rarely  lost  an  opportunity 
of  disparaging  his  conduct  to  the  King.     Indeed  he 
had  already  despatched  an  order  informing  Carleton  | 
that  beyond  the  Canadian  border  the  command  of  the 
Canadian  troops  was  to  be  entrusted  to  Burgoyne. 
This   order,    however,    miscarried.     On    hearing    of 
Carleton's  decision  to  suspend  operations  the  King; 
wrote   that   he  had   every   confidence   in    Sir   Guy,j 
although   later,  when   the  Canadian  Governor   had! 
re-crossed  the  border,  George  wrote: — 

"That  there  is  great  prejudice,  perhaps  not  unac- 
companied with  rancour,  in  a  certain  breast  against 
Governor  Carleton  is  so  manifest  to  whoever  has 
heard  the  subject  mentioned,  that  it  would  be  idle  to! 
say  more  than  that  it  is  a  fact.  Perhaps  Carleton 
may  be  too  cold  and  not  so  active  as  might  be  wished, 
which  may  make  it  advisable  to  have  the  part  of  the 

1  See  Letter  in  Appendix. 


Canadian  army  (which  must  not  attempt  to  join 
General  Howe)  led  by  a  more  enterprising  commander. 
But  should  the  proposal  be  to  recall  Carleton  from 
his  government  or  censure  his  conduct,  that  would  be 
cruel,  and  the  exigency  cannot  authorise  it." 

Howe  followed  up  his  successes  by  the  battle  of 
White  Plains,  where  after  another  victory  he  again 
failed  to  derive  any  strategic  benefit.  Some  three 
weeks  later  Fort  Washington  was  forced  to  surrender, 
and  nearly  3000  prisoners,  43  cannon,  and  a  valuable 
magazine  of  stores  were  captured.  Cornwallis  over- 
ran New  Jersey,  driving  Washington  before  him. 
Clinton  made  the  rebels  abandon  Rhode  Island,  and 
the  Congress  in  a  panic  abandoned  Philadelphia. 

December  saw  the  American  cause  at  a  low  ebb. 
"  The  game,"  wrote  Washington,  "  is  pretty  well 
played  out."  But  the  continued  folly  of  the  British 
generals  soon  retrieved  the  American  position. 
Howe  remained  inert  all  winter  long  in  New  York, 
and  Washington,  satisfied  with  taking  Trenton  and 
compelling  the  British  to  evacuate  some  of  the  points 
they  had  held,  was  well  content  to  devote  his  atten- 
tion to  enlisting  more  troops  in  the  spring.  The 
enormous  difficulties  he  experienced  in  raising  a  suffi- 
cient force  is  an  eloquent  testimony  to  the  loyalist 
feeling  in  America  at  that  time.  Two  or  three 
British  victories  vigorously  followed  up  would  have 
utterly  routed  the  hopes  of  the  insurgents.  As  it 
was,  the  chief  triumphs  of  Washington's  genius  were 
ver  his  own  army,  "that  destructive,  expensive, 
nd  disorderly  mob,"  as  he  called  it.  The  American 
mmander  had  taken  Howe's  measure.  For  the 


rest  of  Howe's  year  and  a  half  in  America,  Washing- 
ton, no  matter  how  low  his  force  dwindled,  always 
remained  encamped  within  a  few  miles  of  the  vast 
host  of  his  Whig  antagonist  undisturbed  and  un- 
pursued.  He  had  no  need  to  retreat  amongst  the 
redskins  and  the  buffalo  of  the  Mississippi. 

When  one  reflects  on  the  "  relentless  severity  and 
slaughter  "  of  Grant,  Sherman,  and  Sheridan  in  the 
Civil  War,  "  the  persistent  and  steady  hunting  down 
of  men,"  Howe's  mild,  dilatory  methods  are  hard  to 
explain  except  on  the  hypothesis  which  his  loyalist 
critics  adopted. 

In  Britain  every  single  step  the  King  and  his 
Ministers  took  for  the  subjugation  of  the  rebellion 
was  criticised  and  obstructed  by  the  Whigs  and  demo- 
crats. Every  British  defeat  they  rejoiced  at,  every 
British  victory  they  deplored.  Besides  Chatham, 
Fox,  Burke,  Barre,  and  Wilkes,  a  Dissenting  Minister 
named  Price  came  forward  with  a  laudatory  pamphlet 
on  America,  which  created  great  stir  at  the  time.  It 
was  repeatedly  quoted  in  Parliament.  The  King's 
own  brother,  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  complimented 
the  author  in  person,  and  the  common  council  of 
London  voted  Price  its  thanks,  and  presented  the 
freedom  of  the  city  to  him  in  a  gold  box.  The 
news  of  Howe's  victory  at  Brooklyn  Fox  openly  called 
"  the  terrible  news."  In  the  House  of  Commons 
Wilkes  said  :  "  If  we  are  saved,  it  will  be  almost  solely 
by  the  courage  and  noble  spirit  of  our  American 
brethren,  whom  neither  the  luxuries  of  a  Court  nor 
the  sordid  lust  of  avarice  in  a  rapacious  and  venal 
metropolis  have  hitherto  corrupted." 


Although  the  war  to  preserve  the  unity  of  the 
Empire  enormously  enhanced  the  burdens  which 
Britain  was  called  upon  to  bear,  yet  the  nation  bore 
it  manfully,  for  the  King's  cause  was  now  the  cause 
of  the  majority.  Yet  the  Whig  minority  never  de- 
sisted. At  a  time  when  it  behoved  every  Briton  to 
stand  shoulder  to  shoulder  throughout  the  Empire 
the  halls  of  Parliament  resounded  with  vituperative 
declamations,  traitorous  invectives,  and  cowardly  in- 
sinuations. Chatham  in  particular  could  never  be 
brought  to  understand  what  Washington  well  knew, 
that  more  than  half  of  America  was  still,  openly  or 
secretly,  loyal  to  the  King,  and  had  no  more  grievance 
against  the  Government  than  had  Kent  or  Cumber- 
land. "  My  lords,"  declared  Chatham,  "I  say  again 
this  country  has  been  the  aggressor ;  you  have  made 
descents  upon  their  coasts,  you  have  burnt  their  towns, 
plundered  their  country,  made  war  upon  the  inhabit- 
ants, confiscated  their  property,  proscribed  and  im- 
prisoned their  persons.  Let,  then,  the  reparation  corne 
from  the  hands  who  have  inflicted  the  injuries."  In 
other  words,  the  British  Government  had  achieved,  but 
with  great  mildness,  what  the  exigencies  of  a  war  and 
rebellion  demanded.  It  had  acted  precisely  as  it  had 
(with  Chatham's  approval)  acted  towards  the  Scotch 
in  1745  ;  as  it  would  act  again  on  the  occasion  of  a 
later  rebellion,  as  America  acted  towards  the  rebel- 
lious States  of  her  Empire  in  1861,  as  all  Governments 
worthy  of  the  name  ought  to  act. 

It  was  in  the  midst  of  these  discussions  that 
North,  just  recovering  from  a  severe  illness,  was 
obliged  to  submit  to  the  House  a  demand  which  he 



foresaw  must  introduce  most  unpleasant  discussions. 
The  increasing  load  of  debt  on  the  Civil  List,  greatl 
augmented   by   numerous   American   refugees,   h 
long  embarrassed  the  Court,  but  the  circumstan 
of  the  times  had  prevented  an  application  to  Parli 
ment.     The  poverty  of  the  Crown  was  now  becom 
so   disgraceful,  that   the  Minister   could   no   long 
decline  presenting  a  message  informing  the  Hou 
that  the  arrears  amounted  to  upwards  of  six  hundr 
thousand  pounds,  and  appealing  to  their  loyalty  an 
affection   to   discharge   this  debt,  and  at  the  sam 
time  make  further  provision  for  supporting  the  dignity 
of  the  Crown.     To  this  the  Opposition  declared  that 
the  "honour  and  dignity  of  the  Crown"  formed  a 
common  pretext  for  such  applications ;   but  if  the 
Minister  really  consulted  the  honour  and  dignity  of 
the    Crown,  he  would  have  applied   to   Parliament 
earlier,  or  even  annually,  as  the  debt  was  incurred. 
Dangerous  consequences  might  arise  from  the  aug- 
mentation  of   the   Civil   List,   and   the   consequent 
influence  of  the  Crown,  already  become  much  too 
powerful.     To  quote  the  still   irrepressible  Wilkes, 
the  nation  cheerfully  gave  eight  hundred  thousand 
pounds  for  the  trappings  of  royalty,  and  the  pro-  I 
posed  augmentation  was  a  violation  of  public  faith.  \ 
It  was  cruel  to  fleece  the  people  when  involved  in 
a  most  expensive  as  well  as  unnatural  and  ruinous 
civil  war,  and  burthened  with  an  enormous  national 
debt.      Having   reviewed    the    expenses   of  all   the 
sovereigns  since  the  Revolution,  he  extolled    their 
magnificence  compared  with  the  want  of  splendour 
in  the  Court  of  George  III. 


North  explained  that  during  the  past  four  years 
the  Crown  expenditure  so  far  from  having  advanced 
had  undergone  a  considerable  decrease,  to  the  amount 
of  nearly  £100,000  a  year.  In  the  last  year  it  had  in- 
creased on  account  of  numerous  American  refugees, 
driven  from  their  country  or  property  for  their 
loyalty  and  attachment  to  the  Crown  and  Parlia- 
ment of  Great  Britain,  and  left  destitute  of  resource, 
or  even  of  sustenance.  These  alone  had  augmented 
the  Civil  List  expenses  to  nearly  £30,000.  The  in- 
fluence of  the  Crown  had  not  been  enlarged  since 
the  King's  accession ;  but  Government  had  been 
strengthened  by  the  wisdom  and  rectitude  of  the 
King's  counsels,  and  the  esteem  and  confidence  of  his 
subjects.  The  obligations  were  mutual  and  justly 
merited  ;  and  if  such  an  influence  really  existed,  it 
would  not  be  employed  in  abridging  the  liberties  of 
the  subjects  or  in  acts  of  oppression,  but  in  securing 
and  augmenting  the  prosperity,  virtues,  and  happiness 
of  the  people.1 

One  intemperate  and  ignorant  member,  Alderman 
Sawbridge,  flatly  asserted  that  in  his  opinion  the 
Civil  List  had  been  employed  in  corrupting  both 
Houses.  It  had  been  spent  in  private  as  well  as 
public  pensions,  in  single  bribes  and  temporary 
gratuities.  "  The  Civil  List  had  been  drained  by  as 
many  different  means  as  want  suggested,  or  corrup- 
tion was  capable  of  devising."  A  scene  of  excite- 
ment occurred,  but  Sawbridge  refused  to  retract  or 
qualify  his  expressions,  but  went  even  further : 
"  Some  of  the  very  debt  which  the  Minister  applied 

1  Parliamentary  History. 



to  Parliament  to  discharge  was  squandered  in  hiring 
spies  and  informers  to  ruin  and  distress  innocent 
men,  men  in  every  light  as  loyal  to  the  King  and  as 
faithful  to  their  country  as  their  persecutors  would 
persuade  the  world  they  themselves  were." l  Burke's 
happy  irony  fortunately  threw  a  veil  over  Sawbridge's 
ridiculous  mare's-nest. 

In  the  Upper  House  Lord  Talbot  narrated  what 
pains  he  had  been  at  to  reduce  the  expense  of  th< 
domestic  department   of  the  royal  household.     H< 
illustrated  the  difficulty  of  reforming  the  King's  menu 
servants  when   profits  were  enjoyed   by  persons   oj 
rank  and  the  services  performed  by  others.     One 
the  turnspits  in  the  King's  kitchen  was  a  member 
the  House  of  Commons,  whose  duties  were  performe< 
by  a  poor  man  for  five  pounds  a  year.     One  reform 
Talbot   alone  had   effected:  board  wages  were  sup- 
pressed, and  the  servants  obliged  to  attend  to  theii 
duties.     There    were   no   fewer    than    seventy-thr< 
tables  kept,  of  which  eleven  were  for  nurses.     Th< 
Lord  Steward  described  the  unhappiness  of  the  Kinj 
at  his  poor  tradesmen  being  kept  so   long  waiting 
for  their  accounts  to  be  settled.     As  to  influence,  h< 
thought  that "  Whatever  tended  to  make  the  soverei^ 
easy  in  his  domestic  situation,  and  independent  oi 
his  Ministers,  constituted  so  much  power  to  be  used 
for  the  benefit  of  the  people,  and  not  against  them." 
Lord  Melbourne  struck  a  true  note  when  he  said  that 
"  The  influence  of  the  Crown  was  not  the  only  in- 
fluence which  tended  to  bring  the  nation  to  slavery, 
destruction,  and  ruin.     The  whole  mass  of  the  people 

1  Adolphus,  vol.  ii.  p.  422. 



were  corrupted  or  corruptible.  The  nation  was  com- 
posed of  buyers  and  sellers.  Every  man  wished  to 
purchase  or  dispose  ;  and  when  he  purchased,  it  was 
always  with  the  intention  to  dispose."  l 

It  is  superfluous  and  quite  outside  the  scope 
of  this  work  to  relate  the  story  of  the  American 
revolutionary  war,  except  in  so  far  as  its  leading 
events  touch  the  policy  and  person  of  the  King. 
In  February  North  presented  to  the  astonishment 
of  the  House  of  Commons  another  measure  of  con- 
ciliation towards  the  Americans.  Five  commis- 
sioners were  to  be  appointed  to  proceed  to  America 
and  treat  directly  with  Congress.  Short  of  an 
acknowledgment  of  their  independence,  almost  any 
terms  were  to  be  agreed  to.  It  was  with  great 
reluctance  that  the  King  agreed  to  any  further 
overtures,  since  he  could  not  help  regarding  them 
as  a  confession  of  weakness,  which  the  Americans 
themselves  would  contemn. 

On  the  17th  October  1777  General  Burgoyne, 
who  had  allowed  himself  to  become  entirely  sur- 
rounded by  the  Americans,  surrendered  at  Saratoga. 
On  Howe's  shoulders  rests  the  disgrace  of  this  cam- 
paign. Through  Germain  the  King  had  ordered 
him  to  co-operate  with  the  northern  army :  but 
Howe  harboured  his  own  schemes.  He  wished 
to  take  Philadelphia ;  he  took  it,  but  it  proved  an 
empty  conquest,  and  really  damaging  to  the  loyalist 
cause.  The  chief  importance  of  Saratoga  is  the 
impetus  the  American  victory  gave  to  the  secret 
plans  of  France  and  other  European  countries. 

1  Parliamentary  History. 

Y  337 


The  American  cause,  patronised  by  the  political 
philosophers,  had  already  been  made  popular  in 
France.  America  was  hailed  as  the  land  of  ideal 
virtue  and  sweet  simplicity,  where  all  men  lived 
in  gentle  fellowship  and  equality. 

The  foolish  courtiers,  who  had  made  the  Utopian 
doctrines  of  Voltaire  and  Rousseau  the  fashionable 
reading  of  the  hour,  hailed  the  arrival  in  Paris  of 
Benjamin  Franklin  with  ludicrous  enthusiasm. 
Franklin  lost  no  time  in  achieving  his  mission, 
which  was  to  stir  up  sufficient  animosity  to  Britain 
to  induce  the  French  Government  to  acknowledge 
American  independence  and  take  the  side  of  America 
in  the  quarrel.  Vergennes,  on  hearing  of  Burgoyne's 
surrender,  early  in  December  1777,  thought  the 
time  ripe  for  dealing  Britain  the  long-meditated 
blow.  The  treaty  which  was  signed  two  months 
later  rendered  war  between  Britain  and  France 

By  the  intervention  of  France  was  victory 
brought  about  eventually  for  the  cause  of  the 
American  separatists.  "  Unless,"  wrote  a  French 
officer  serving  in  the  American  army,  "France  de- 
clared war  against  Britain  the  Americans  would 
fail  to  obtain  independence,  so  little  enthusiasm 
for  the  cause  was  there  among  them,  and  so  keenly 
had  they  felt  the  privations  of  the  war." 

On  the  eve  of  the  negotiation  of  this  Franco- 
American  treaty  George  told  Parliament  that  while 
foreign  Powers  had  given  strong  assurances  of 
pacific  disposition,  yet  the  armaments  of  France 
and  Spain  still  continued.  He  had  considerably 



augmented  his  naval  forces,  firmly  determined  never 
to  disturb  the  peace  of  Europe,  though  he  would 
faithfully  guard  the  honour  of  the  British  Crown. 
He  would  steadily  pursue  the  measures  in  which 
he  was  engaged  for  the  re-establishment  of  that 
constitutional  subordination  which,  by  the  blessings 
of  God,  he  would  ever  maintain  through  the 
several  parts  of  his  dominions.  But  he  still  hoped 
the  deluded  and  unhappy  multitude  of  America 
would  return  to  their  allegiance.  "  Remembrance 
of  what  they  once  enjoyed,  regret  for  what  they 
had  lost,  and  feelings  of  what  they  suffered  under 
the  arbitrary  tyranny  of  their  leaders,  would  re- 
kindle in  their  hearts  a  spirit  of  loyalty  to  their 
sovereign,  and  of  attachment  to  their  Mother 
Country.  If  so,  they  would  enable  him,  with  the 
concurrence  and  support  of  Parliament,  to  accomplish 
what  he  should  consider  the  greatest  happiness  of 
his  life  and  the  greatest  glory  of  his  reign,  the 
restoration  of  peace,  order,  and  confidence  to  the 
American  Colonies." 

In  Britain,  so  far  from  the  Saratoga  surrender 
depressing  public  spirit,  it  enormously  increased  it. 
Vastly  disconcerted,  the  patriotic  Whigs  were  to  see 
Liverpool,  Glasgow,  Edinburgh  each  raising  a 
regiment  of  troops,  while  15,000  soldiers  were  raised 
by  private  bounty  alone  and  presented  to  the  State. 

With  the  Franco- American  alliance  looming  up 
North  shrank  from  the  mighty  task  now  before 
his  country.  We  find  him  urging  the  King 
to  accept  his  resignation.  He  actually  suggested 
that  Chatham  should  be  invited  to  take  office,  and 



he  himself  sounded  Shelburne  as  to  the  Earl's  terms. 
George,  who  had  watched  Chatham's  intemperate 
language  in  the  House  of  Lords,  could  hardly  look 
upon  such  a  proposal  with  anything  but  disapproval. 
Was  it  likely  that  with  Parliament  and  the  body  of 
the  nation  behind  him  that  George  would  commis- 
sion Chatham  or  any  other  man  to  turn  out  all  his 
servants  and  stultify  all  his  measures  ?  The  Earl 
insisted,  it  was  understood,  on  an  entire  change  of 
Ministry.  The  King  revolted  at  the  idea.  Such  a 
change  would  be  no  advantage  to  the  country.  "  No 
personal  danger  to  himself,"  as  he  wrote  North, 
"  would  induce  him  to  consent " ;  he  would  "  rather 
lose  his  crown  ! " 




THIS  inflexible  attitude  of  the  King  has  been  made 
the  occasion  of  much  absurd  and  ill-considered  Whig- 
denunciation.  They,  who  criticise  the  monarch  for 
his  "  stubbornness,"  altogether  lose  sight  of  the  fact 
that  George  was  speaking  not  for  himself,  but  for  his 
people.  Even  if  the  Parliamentary  majority  had 
been  smaller  than  it  was,  still  a  large  majority  of  the 
nation  approved  of  the  measures  he  was  carrying  out. 
As  an  eminently  fair  authority  says :  "  The  King's 
policy  wras  still  popular  with  the  larger  part  of  his 
subjects.  If  he  is  to  be  blamed  because,  rather  than 
submit  to  the  loss  of  the  Colonies,  which  nearly  all 
men  believe  would  be  the  end  of  England's  pros- 
perity, he  must  carry  on  the  struggle,  the  blame  must 
be  shared  by  others." l  But  whatever  ideas  regarding 
Chatham's  further  participation  in  the  Government 
had  been  formed,  they  were  soon  set  at  rest  by 
;he  hand  of  death  in  May  1778. 

It  is  difficult  to  see  how  George  could  regard 
Chatham  as  anything  but  a  public  enemy.  He  had 
:hwarted  every  true  patriot's  hopes  ;  he  had  comforted 
:he  enemy ;  he  had  used  language  which  could  only 
regarded  as  seditious  and  indecent  in  the  mouth 

1  Hunt,  Political  History  of  England. 



of  an  Englishman.  His  character  was  well  described 
by  one  of  his  friends :  "  Upon  every  important 
subject,"  he  said,  "  he  appealed  to  some  common  and 
inspiring  sentiment — the  feelings  of  national  honour, 
disgust  at  political  corruption,  the  care  of  popular 
liberty,  contempt  of  artifice,  or  hatred  of  oppression. 
But  provided  the  topic  were  animating  and  effective, 
he  cared  little  whether  it  were  one  on  which  a  wise 
patriot  could  honestly  dilate ;  a  vulgar  prejudice 
served  his  turn  as  well  as  an  ancient  and  useful 
privilege.  He  countenanced  every  prevailing  de- 
lusion, and  hurried  the  nation  to  war,  not  as  a 
necessary  evil,  but  as  an  honourable  choice.  Above 
all,  he  loved  to  nourish  the  popular  jealousy  of  France, 
and  it  was  upon  his  means  of  gratifying  this  feeling 
that  he  seemed  to  build  his  hopes  of  future  power. 
Ever  ready  to  be  the  mouthpiece  of  the  cry  or 
clamour  of  the  House,  he  could  be  as  inconsistent 
as  the  multitude  itself;  in  his  earlier  days,  when 
reproached  with  his  change  of  opinion,  he  pleaded 
honest  conviction  of  his  error ;  after  he  had  acquired 
authority,  he  faced  down  his  accusers  with  a  glare 
of  his  eye  and  the  hardihood  of  his  denial.  Nor, 
although  he  assumed  a  tone  of  virtue  superior  to  his 
age,  was  he  more  scrupulous  than  others  in  political 
intrigue,  but  his  object  was  higher.  Instead  of 
bartering  his  conscience  for  a  large  salary  or  a  share 
of  patronage,  he  aimed  at  undivided  power,  the  fame 
of  a  great  orator,  to  be  the  fear  of  every  cabal,  and 
the  admiration  of  a  whole  people."1 

The  whole  political  conduct  of  Chatham  on  his 

1  Harrington,  Memoirs  of  the  Affairs  of  Europe,  vol.  ii.  p.  195. 


death  was  reviewed  by  the  ablest  of  his  contem- 
poraries, and  by  many  was  vehemently  censured 
as  the  source  of  much  of  the  disquiet  and  many  of 
the  disasters  which  overtook  the  country. 

George  had  written  to  Lord  North  about  the 
middle  of  March  :  "I  declare  in  the  strongest  and 
most  solemn  manner  that  I  do  not  object  to  your 
addressing  yourself  to  Lord  Chatham,  yet  you 
must  acquaint  him  that  I  shall  never  address 
myself  to  him  but  through  you,  and  on  a  clear 
explanation  that  he  is  to  step  forth  to  support  an 
administration  wherein  you  are  First  Lord  of  the 
Treasury  ;  and  that  I  cannot  consent  to  have  any 
conversation  with  him  till  the  Ministry  is  formed  ; 
that  if  he  comes  into  this  I  will,  as  he  supports 
you,  receive  him  with  open  arms."  In  the  same 
letter  he  adds :  "  No  advantage  to  this  country, 
nor  personal  danger  to  myself,  can  make  me 
address  myself  to  Lord  Chatham,  or  to  any  other 
branch  of  Opposition.  Honestly,  I  would  rather 
lose  the  crown  I  now  wear,  than  bear  the  ignominy 
of  possessing  it  under  their  shackles.  I  might  write 
volumes  if  I  would  state  the  feelings  of  my  mind, 
but  I  have  honestly,  fairly,  and  affectionately  told 
you  the  whole  of  my  mind,  and  what  I  will  never 
depart  from.  Should  Lord  Chatham  wish  to  see 
me  before  he  gives  an  answer,  I  shall  most  certainly 
refuse  it.  I  have  had  enough  of  personal  negotia- 
tion, and  neither  my  dignity  nor  my  feelings  will 
ever  let  me  again  submit  to  it." 

Speaking  of  Lord  Chatham  as  "that  perfidious 
man,"  on  the  17th  March  the  sovereign  again  ad- 



dresses  himself  to  North :  "  No  consideration  in  life 
shall  make  me  stoop  to  Opposition.     I  am  still  ready 
to  accept  any  part  of  them  that  will  come  to  the 
assistance   of  my   present   efficient   Ministers ;    but 
whilst  any  ten  men  in  the  kingdom  will  stand  by 
me,    I    will    not    give    myself   up     into    bondage. 
I  will  rather  risk  my  crown  than  do  what  I  think 
personally   disgraceful.     It    is    impossible    that    the 
nation  should  not  stand  by  me.     If  they  will  not 
they  shall  have  another  king,  for   I   never  will  put 
my   hand  to  what  will  make  me  miserable  to  the 
last  hour  of  my  life."     If  a  king  be  not  entirely  a 
puppet  and  to  have  sensibilities  like  other  men,   it 
is  difficult  to  see  how  he    can  be  blamed.     Again 
he    writes :    "  The  making   Lord   Chatham's  family 
suffer  for  the  conduct  of  their  father  is  not  in  the 
least   agreeable   to   my   sentiments.     But    I    should 
choose  to  know  him  to  be  totally  unable  to  appear 
on   the   public   stage    before  I   agree    to   any   offer 
of  that  kind,  lest  it  should  be  wrongly  construed 
to   fear   of  him ;    and   indeed   his  political    conduct 
the   last   winter   was  so  abandoned,   that  he   must, 
in  the  eyes  of  the  dispassionate,  have  totally  undone 
all  the   merit  of  his   former   conduct.     As  to  any 
gratitude  to  be  expected  from  him  or  his  family,  the 
whole  tenor  of  their  lives  has  shown  them  void  of 
that  most  honourable  sentiment.    But  when  decrepi- 
tude or  death  puts  an  end  to  him  as  a  trumpet  of 
sedition,  I   shall  make  no  difficulty  in  placing  the 
second  son's  name  instead  of  the  father's  and  making 
up  the  pension  to  three  thousand  pounds." l 

1    LMers  to  Lord  North. 


Let  it  be  remembered,  remarks  Jesse,  that  to 
George  III.  Chatham  was  indebted  for  his  earldom 
and  his  pension  ;  that  the  King  in  former  days  had 
repeatedly  paid  the  most  flattering  tributes  to  his 
genius ;  that  during  the  Earl's  last  administration 
his  sovereign  had  exacted  no  conditions  from  him, 
had  allowed  him  to  select  his  own  colleagues,  and 
had  supported  him  with  the  whole  weight  of  the 
royal  authority.  During  the  mysterious  malady 
which  for  twenty  months  in  the  years  1767  and  1768 
had  prostrated  the  great  mind  of  Chatham,  the  King 
had  uncomplainingly  put  up  with  his  infirmities ;  he 
had  anxiously  and  patiently  waited  for  his  restoration 
to  health  ;  he  had  allowed  him  to  draw  the  splendid 
salary  attached  to  his  office  without  discharging  any 
one  of  its  duties ;  and,  in  fact,  during  two  years  had 
treated  him  with  a  kindness  and  a  consideration  for 
which  no  amount  of  gratitude  could  have  been  too 
ample.  And  yet  all  this  goodness  had  been  repaid 
by  the  Earl  not  only  with  persistent  and  often 
factious  opposition,  but  by  seizing  every  opportunity 
of  maligning  his  sovereign ;  by  accusing  him  in  the 
House  of  Lords,  and  to  the  British  nation,  of  making 
a  farce  of  the  liberties  of  his  subjects ;  by  charging 
him  with  deliberate  treachery  towards  himself,  and 
with  being  a  slave  to  a  base  unconstitutional  influence 
behind  his  throne.  Even  the  fair  fame  of  the  King's 
mother  had  not  escaped  the  cruel  innuendoes  of  the 
embittered  statesman.  So  unjustifiable  indeed  had 
been  his  attacks  in  the  House  of  Lords,  that  not  only 
had  more  than  one  Peer  occasionally  called  him  to 
order,  but  the  Duke  of  Grafton  on  one  occasion 



went  so  far  as  to  tell  him  to  his  face  that  his  words 
were  the  effect  of  "  a  distempered  mind  brooding  over 
its  own  discontents." ] 

A  public  funeral  and  a  statue  was  duly  voted,  the 
sum  of  £20,000  was  granted  for  the  discharge  of  his 
debts,  and  an  annuity  of  £4000  a  year  was  annexed 
to  his  earldom. 

"  I  am  rather  surprised,"  wrote  the  King  to  North, 
"  at  the  vote  of  a  public  funeral  and  a  monument  in 
Westminster  Abbey  for  Lord  Chatham  ;  but  I  trust 
it  is  worded  as  a  testimony  of  gratitude  for  his  rous- 
ing the  nation  at  the  beginning  of  the  last  war,  and 
his  conduct  whilst  at  that  period  he  held  the  seals  of 
Secretary  of  State,  or  this  compliment,  if  paid  to  his 
general  conduct,  is  rather  an  offensive  measure  to  me  j 
personally.     As  to  the  adding  a  life  to  the  pension  | 
I  granted  unto  him  for  three  lives  I  very  readily; 
consent  to  that,  and  authorise  Lord  North  without  j 
delay  to  take  the  necessary  steps  for  effecting  my  I 

The  bulk  of  the  nation  seems  to  have  been  of  the  j 
same  way  of  thinking,  for  the  funeral  was  but  meanly  j 
attended.  Few  even  of  the  Opposition  came  forward  i 
to  follow  the  remains  of  Chatham  to  the  grave. 

Needless  to  say  the  Commissioners  appointed  to  j 
treat  with  the  American  Congress — Lord  Carlisle,; 
Eden,  afterwards  Lord  Auckland,  and  Johnstone — met ; 
with  no  success  in  their  negotiations.  Yet  they  were ; 
empowered  to  guarantee  to  America  "  perfect  freedom  j 
of  legislation  and  internal  government,"  the  with-j 
drawal  forever  of  British  troops  from  the  Colonies,; 

1  Jesse,  vol.  ii.  pp.  204-5. 


and  to  proffer  seats  in  the  British  House  of  Commons 
to  American  representatives,  concessions  which  were 
greater  than  any  of  the  patriots  had  ever  contended 
for,  only  stopping  short  at  the  actual  disruption  of 
the  Empire.  When  the  Empire  was  in  extreme  peril 
the  Opposition,  and  Fox  above  all,  magnified  Britain's 
losses,  "  encouraged  her  enemies  by  exposing  her  weak- 
ness, and  not  content  with  insisting  on  the  maladmini- 
stration of  the  Government,  cavilled  at  every  measure 
proposed  for  the  defence  of  her  Empire.  Their 
conduct  irritated  their  fellow-countrymen,  for  the 
spirit  of  the  nation  was  roused  by  the  intervention  of 
France  in  the  war  with  the  Colonies."1 

On  the  other  side  of  the  Atlantic  the  French 
alliance  occasioned  great  jubilation  ;  the  nobility  and 
generosity  of  poor  Louis  XVI.  were  lauded  to  the 
skies.  The  Republicans  forgot  their  hatred  of  kings, 
and  Congress  announced  he  would  "  rank  among  the 
greatest  heroes  of  history,  whose  example  would  decide 
the  rest  of  Europe  to  champion  the  cause  of  freemen 
and  patriots."  The  young  French  Marquis  de 
Lafayette  obtained  a  command  in  the  American 
army,  and  tried  hard,  but  with  a  success  not  always 
proportionate  to  his  zeal,  to  distinguish  himself  as  a 
military  commander.  The  arrival  of  a  strong  French 
naval  force  under  Admiral  d'Estaing  was  eagerly 
awaited  by  the  American  insurgent  leaders.  If  this 
fleet  should  succeed  in  winning  a  victory  from  the 
British  fleet  under  Howe,  they  believed  the  result 
would  be  regarded  by  Great  Britain  as  decisive. 
But  it  soon  appeared  that  D'Estaing  was  by  no 

1  Hunt,  p.  191. 



means  anxious  to  come  to  fighting  terms  even  with 
Lord  Howe.  After  a  good  deal  of  reconnoitring 
D'Estaing  withdrew  his  fleet  from  American  waters. 
Meanwhile  Britain  prepared  to  defend  her  own 
shores  from  French  invasion.  Keppel,  who  was 
selected  by  the  King  for  the  command  of  the  Grand, 
or  as  it  was  afterwards  called,  the  Channel,  Fleet  was, 
like  the  Howes,  a  Whig  member  of  Parliament  and 
a  regular  opponent  of  Government.  With  thirty 
ships  of  the  line  on  27th  July  1778  he  engaged  the 
Brest  fleet  under  D'Orvilliers  near  Ushant,  and  an 
indecisive  action  was  the  result.  For  this  result 
Keppel  blamed  Palliser,  the  third  in  command,  and 
one  of  the  Lords  of  the  Admiralty.  Palliser  retorted, 
and  a  bitter  quarrel  ensued.  Out  of  this  quarrel 
party  capital  was  made  by  both  sides.  The  Govern- 
ment supported  Palliser,  the  Opposition  upheld 
Keppel,  the  latter  being  connected  by  blood  and 
marriage  with  many  of  the  great  Whig  lords.  The 
utmost  violence  was  shown,  not  only  in  Parliament 
but  by  the  London  mob.  Early  in  1779  a  court- 
martial  was  held,  Keppel  was  acquitted,  the  mob 
gutted  Palliser 's  house,  and  attacked  the  houses  of 
several  members  of  the  Government.  Even  the  lead- 
ing Whigs  took  parts  in  this  violence.  In  the  mob 
which  attacked  the  Admiralty  were  Charles  Fox,  who 
had  recently  been  a  member  of  its  Board,  and  Thomas 
Grenville,  afterwards  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty. 
"It  happened  at  three  in  the  morning,"  writes  Walpole, 
"that  Charles  Fox,  Lord  Derby,  and  his  brother, 
Major  Stanley,  and  two  or  three  more  young  men  of 
quality,  having  been  drinking  at  Almack's,  suddenly 


thought  of  making  a  tour  of  the  streets,  and  were 
joined  by  the  Duke  of  Ancaster,  who  was  very  drunk, 
and,  what  showed  it  was  no  premeditated  scheme,  the 
latter  was  a  courtier,  and  had  actually  been  breaking 
windows.  Finding  the  mob  before  Palliser's  house, 
some  of  the  young  lords  said,  "  Why  don't  you  break 
Lord  George  Germain's  windows?"  The  populace 
had  been  so  little  tutored  that  they  asked  who  he  was, 
and  being  encouraged,  broke  his  windows.  The  mis- 
chief pleasing  the  juvenile  leaders,  they  marched  to 
the  Admiralty,  forced  the  gates,  and  demolished 
Palliser's  and  Lord  Lisburne's  windows.  Lord 
Sandwich,  exceedingly  terrified,  escaped  through  the 
garden  with  his  mistress,  Miss  Ray,  to  the  Horse 
Guards,  and  there  betrayed  a  most  manifest  panic." 

It  may  be  added  that  not  only  did  a  First  Lord 
of  the  Admiralty  publicly  keep  a  mistress  at  his 
official  residence  at  Whitehall,  but  it  is  stated  as 
a  fact  that  even  Bishops  with  their  wives  sat  un- 
blushingly  through  the  musical  and  dramatic  per- 
formances with  which  the  Earl  was  accustomed  to 
entertain  his  neighbours  at  Hinchin  broke,  knowing 
full  well  that  the  songstress  to  whom  they  listened 
was  the  paramour  of  their  host,  and  the  mother  of 
his  children.2 

Palliser,  though  a  Tory,  was  a  brave  and  able 
man,  and  at  that  time  suffering  from  wounds 
which  he  had  received  in  the  service  of  his  country. 
"  Perhaps,"  wrote  Lord  Sheffield,  "  no  man  was  ever 
more  cruelly  used  by  the  public  through  a  violent 

1  Walpole's  Last  Journals,  vol.  ii.  p.  343. 

2  Jesse,  vol.  ii.  pp.  239-40. 



party  spirit."  The  King  also  wrote  to  North  in 
almost  the  same  way :  "  Perhaps  there  never  was  a 
more  general  run  than  against  poor  Sir  Hugh 
Palliser."  Party  politics  were  fast  ruining  the  naval 
service ;  the  spirit  of  insubordination  was  spreading 
from  the  commanders  to  the  humblest  seaman ; 
Keppel  struck  his  flag,  and  declared  his  intention  of 
not  serving  again  under  the  present  Ministry. 

Following  this  disgraceful  controversy,  the  Op- 
position bent  all  its  endeavours  to  effect  the  ruin 
of  Sandwich.  Fox  led  the  charge,  accusing  him 
of  gross  incompetency,  and  advising  the  King  to 
remove  him  from  his  Councils  and  presence  for  ever. 
George  would  have  been  prepared  to  appoint  Lord 
Howe  to  the  First  Lordship,  but  his  added  con- 
ditions it  would  be  disgraceful  to  grant.  He  hated 
Sandwich's  morals,  but  "  I  am  clear,"  he  wrote, 
"  Lord  Sandwich  fills  the  Admiralty  much  better 
than  any  other  man  in  the  kingdom." 

By  the  middle  of  July  Spain  had  joined  France 
against  Britain,  but  to  give  the  allied  fleets  time 
for  preparation  war  was  not  declared  until  two 
months  later.  One  would  have  thought  that  the 
existence  of  this  powerful  coalition  would  have 
silenced  the  base  clamours  of  Opposition.  It  might 
be  expected  that  men  who  professed  to  love  their 
country  would  in  such  an  hour  of  national  peril  have 
stood  forth  in  support  of  their  sovereign.  The 
Whig  opposition  were  no  such  patriots ;  faction  was 
ever  their  policy,  and  their  love  was  for  every  country 
but  their  own.  "  The  times  are  certainly  hazardous," 
wrote  the  King  to  North,  "  but  that  ought  to  rouse 


the  spirit  of  every  Englishman  to  support  me,  who 
have  no  wish  but  for  the  prosperity  of  my  people, 
and  no  view  but  to  do  my  duty,  and  to  show  by 
firmness  in  difficulties  that  I  am  not  unworthy  of 
the  station  into  which  it  has  pleased  Providence  to 
place  me." 

The  Opposition  vigorously  and  unreasonably 
combated  the  loyal  address  to  the  throne,  and  the 
King  was  shocked  at  their  disaffection  in  this  "the 
most  serious  crisis  this  nation  ever  knew." 

Worse  still,  North,  never  a  man  of  very  profound 
convictions,  and  already  bored  by  his  arduous  duties, 
kept  dinning  into  the  King's  ears  his  desire  to  resign. 
Some  allowance  must  be  made  for  North's  state  of 
mind,  and  the  fact  that  he  had  just  suffered  a  family 
bereavement.  But  it  redounded  little  to  the  credit 
of  the  Minister  that  he  was  so  ready  to  emulate 
Chatham,  and  to  repay  his  sovereign's  confidence 
and  liberality  towards  him  by  abandonment  at  a 
grave  crisis.  He  was  only  restrained  by  the  strength 
of  the  King's  entreaties.  However  the  Whig  aristoc- 
racy sulked  and  the  London  mob  stormed,  the 
bulk  of  the  nation  rose  with  zeal  and  ranged  them- 
selves on  the  side  of  the  King. 

"  I  should  think,"  wrote  the  King,  "  it  is  the  greatest 
instance  among  the  many  I  have  met  with  of  in- 
gratitude and  injustice,  if  it  could  be  supposed  that 
any  man  in  my  dominions  more  ardently  desired  the 
restoration  of  peace  and  solid  happiness  in  every 
part  of  this  Empire  than  I  do ;  there  is  no  personal 
sacrifice  I  could  not  readily  yield  for  so  desirable 
an  object;  but  at  the  same  time  no  inclination  to 


get  out  of  the  present  difficulties,  which  certainly 
keep  my  mind  very  far  from  a  state  of  ease,  can 
incline  me  to  enter  into  what  I  look  upon  as  the 
destruction  of  the  Empire.  I  have  heard  Lord 
North  frequently  drop  that  the  advantages  to  be 
gained  by  this  contest  could  never  repay  the  expense. 
I  own  that,  let  any  war  be  ever  so  successful,  if 
persons  will  sit  down  and  weigh  the  expenses  they 
will  find,  as  in  the  last,  that  it  has  impoverished  the 
State,  enriched  individuals,  and  perhaps  raised  the 
name  only  of  the  conquerors.  But  this  is  only 
weighing  such  events  in  the  scale  of  a  tradesman 
behind  his  counter.  It  is  necessary  for  those  in  the 
station  it  has  pleased  Divine  Providence  to  place  me 
to  weigh  whether  expenses,  though  very  great,  are 
not  sometimes  necessary  to  prevent  what  might  be 
more  ruinous  to  a  country  than  the  loss  of  money. 
The  present  contest  with  America  I  cannot  help  see- 
ing as  the  most  serious  in  which  any  country  was  ever 
engaged.  It  contains  such  a  train  of  consequences, 
that  they  must  be  examined  to  feel  its  real  weight. 
Whether  the  laying  a  tax  was  deserving  all  the  evils 
that  have  arisen  from  it,  I  should  suppose  no  man 
could  allege  that  without  being  thought  more  fit  for 
Bedlam  than  a  seat  in  the  Senate ;  but  step  by  step 
the  demands  of  America  have  risen :  independence 
is  their  object.  That  certainly  is  one  which  every 
man  not  willing  to  sacrifice  every  object  to  a 
momentary  inglorious  peace  must  concur  with  me 
in  thinking  that  this  country  can  never  submit 
to.  Should  America  succeed  in  that,  the  West 
Indies  must  follow  them.  .  .  .  Ireland  would  soon 


follow  the  same  plan  and  be  a  separate  State ; 
then  this  island  would  be  reduced  to  itself,  and 
soon  would  be  a  poor  island  indeed.  For,  re- 
duced in  her  trade,  merchants  would  retire  with 
their  wealth  to  climates  more  to  their  advantage, 
and  shoals  of  manufacturers  would  leave  this  country 
for  the  new  empire.  These  self-evident  consequences 
are  not  worse  than  what  can  arise  should  the 
Almighty  permit  every  event  to  turn  out  to  our 
disadvantage ;  consequently  this  country  has  but  one 
sensible,  one  great  line  to  follow,  the  being  ever 
ready  to  make  peace  when  to  be  obtained  without 
submitting  to  terms  that  in  their  consequence  must 
annihilate  this  Empire,  and  with  firmness  to  make 
every  effort  to  deserve  success." l 

The  gauntlet  was  flung  back  in  the  face  of  France 
and  Spain.  Further,  vast  sums  were  raised,  priva- 
teers were  fitted  out,  the  militia  was  doubled,  forti- 
fications on  the  sea-coast  were  erected,  and  "  King 
and  country  "  again  became  the  zealous  rallying  cry 
throughout  the  realm.  "  In  short,"  wrote  the  King, 
"  I  begin  to  see  that  I  SHALL  SOON  HAVE  INFUSED 


very  well  the  various  hazards  we  are  open  to ;  but 
I  trust  in  the  protection  of  the  Almighty,  in  the 
justice  of  the  cause,  the  uprightness  of  my  own 
intentions,  and  my  determination  to  show  my  people 
that  my  life  is  always  ready  to  be  risked  for  their 
safety  or  prosperity." 

France  and  Spain  seemed  resolved  to  crush  the 

1  Letters  to  Lord  North,  vol.  ii.  pp.  253-4. 

^  353 


naval  supremacy  of  Britain.  Hardy,  now  in  com- 
mand of  the  Channel  Fleet,  had  to  face  with  his 
thirty-eight  sail  of  the  line  more  than  fifty  of  the 
enemy.  The  Admiralty  under  these  circumstances 
advocated  great  caution,  but  the  King  had  not  the 
smallest  anxiety  that  his  fleet  would  fail  to  hold  its 
own.  "  I  have  the  fullest  trust  in  Divine  Providence, 
and  that  the  officers  and  men  of  my  fleet  will  act 
with  the  ardour  the  times  require.  If  the  French 
should  land  troops,  they  will  have  thorough  reason 
to  repent  of  their  temerity."  Two  days  later  he 
wrote  again,  "  I  trust  in  Divine  Providence,  the 
justice  of  our  cause,  and  the  bravery  and  activity  of 
my  Navy.  I  wish  Lord  North  could  view  it  in  the 
same  light  for  the  ease  of  his  own  mind." 

On  the  19th  June  he  wrote  Weymouth :  "I 
cannot  help  wishing  the  instructions  to  Sir  Charles 
Hardy  left  him  a  little  more  latitude.  I  own  if 
I  were  in  his  situation  and  received  such  orders 
I  should  instantly  return  to  Torbay.  I  know  the 
zeal  and  excellence  of  the  fleet  under  his  command. 
If  its  spirit  is  damped,  it  may  prevent  its  acting 
with  that  vigour  occasions  may  require.  Over- 
caution  is  the  greatest  evil  we  ever  fall  into.  I 
do  not  mean  by  this  that  Sir  Charles  should  not 
have  the  power  of  returning,  but  a  few  words 
trusting  that  he  will  not  execute  his  instruction 
further  than  his  own  judgment  makes  him  think 
it  absolutely  necessary.  I  desire  you  will  show  this 
at  your  meeting." 

The  fifty  ships  of  the  enemy  were  soon  increased 
to  sixty-five,  and  Hardy  was  compelled  to  retire, 

GEORGE  III.,  ^ETAT.  44 
(From  the  Portrait  by  Zoffany  at  Buckingham  Palace) 


adroitly  leading  the  foe  past  Plymouth,  which  was 
then  little  fitted  to  sustain  a  siege. 

The  King's  personal  example  inspired  his  subjects ; 
his  ardour  was  unquenchable ;  he  visited  military 
camps,  reviewed  troops,  and  spoke  personally  words 
of  encouragement  to  officers  and  men.  Had  an 
invasion  actually  occurred,  George  would  never  have 
been  satisfied  with  any  other  post  than  that  at  the 
head  of  the  troops.  "The  King's  magnanimity," 
said  Germain  to  Clinton,  "is  not  to  be  shaken  by 
the  nearness  of  danger." 

On  27th  June  he  wrote  to  North  :  "  The  enclosed 
papers  which  I  return  confirm  me  in  an  opinion 
long  entertained,  that  America,  unless  this  summer 
supported  by  a  Bourbon  fleet,  must  sue  for  peace, 
and  that  it  would  ever  have  been  unwise  to  have 
done  more  than  what  is  now  adopted  :  the  enabling 
the  commander-in-chief  to  put  provinces  at  peace. 
.  .  .  Propositions  must  come  from  them  to  us,  no 
further  ones  be  sent  from  hence ;  they  ever  tend  only 
to  increase  the  demands.  I  can  never  agree  to  heal- 
ing over  an  uncured  wound — it  must  be  probed 
to  the  bottom ;  if  it  then  proves  sound,  no  one  will 
be  more  ready  to  forget  offences.  But  no  one  sees 
more  forcibly  the  necessity  of  preventing  the  like 
mischief  by  America's  feeling  she  has  not  been  a 
gainer  by  the  contest ;  yet  after  that  I  would  show 
that  the  parent's  heart  is  still  affectionate  to  the 
penitent  child." 

On  llth  October  the  King  wrote:  "The  intelli- 
gence from  America  is  far  from  unpleasant; 
it  shows  that  with  the  force,  small  as  it  was,  that 



was  sent  this  summer,  had  it  arrived  early  much 
might  have  been  done  this  year.  The  reinforce- 
ment the  next  must  at  all  events  be  sent  by  the 
first  week  in  March.  Clinton  must  be  kept  there  at 
all  events." 

North's  reiterated  appeals  to  be  relieved  of  office 
at  length  induced  the  King  to  consent  to  his  once 
more  casting  about  for  some  capable  successor.  "  I 
can  set  my  sentiments  in  three  words.  I  order  Lord 
North  to  continue,  but  if  he  is  resolved  to  retire,  he 
must  understand  the  step  thought  necessary  by  him 
is  very  unpleasant  to  me."  By  this  time  North 
seems  to  have  become  convinced  that  the  continuance 
of  the  American  war  was  futile.  Futile  it  certainly 
was  if  one  looked  to  the  means  by  which  it  was 
intended  to  compass  the  loyalists'  ends.  Never  was 
Britain  so  badly  served  as  she  was  in  the  American 
contest.  But  the  loyal  spirit  in  America  was  not 
yet  crushed;  events  might  yet  happen  to  retrieve 
disaster.  If  many  of  the  counties  of  England  were 
already  beginning  to  sicken  of  the  conflict  and  to 
hold  meetings  of  protest,  so  also  were  many  of  the 
American  Whigs.  One  British  victory  after  another 
diminished  the  hopes  and  courage  of  the  American 
revolutionaries.  Washington  grew  despondent,  and 
pinned  all  his  faith  to  French  intervention.  George, 
throughout,  continued  firm  as  a  rock.  He  would  not 
retreat,  he  would  not  waver,  he  would  be  true  to  the 
trust  the  Empire  reposed  in  him.  "  I  do  believe," 
he  wrote,  "that  America  is  nearer  coming  in1 
temper  to  treat  than  perhaps  at  any  other  perio< 
and  if  we  arrive  in  time  at  Gibraltar,  Spain  will  n< 


succeed  in  that  attack,  which  will  very  probably  allay 
the  fury  of  the  Spanish  monarch,  and  make  him  more 
willing  to  end  the  war." 

It  is  undeniable  that  the  British  Ministry  had 
shown  much  weakness.  Gower,  who  had  supported 
the  American  war,  altered  his  views,  and  resigned  in 
November  1779.  Previously  Jenkinson,  afterwards 
Lord  Liverpool,  succeeded  Barrington  as  Secretary 
of  War.  Jenkinson  was  one  of  George's  persona] 
friends,  and  he  had  great  confidence  in  him. 
Wey mouth  gave  way  to  Hillsborough ;  Germain's 
shortcomings  were  at  this  stage  so  apparent  that 
the  King  reluctantly  admitted  that  he  was  "  of  no 
use  in  his  department." 

In  deference  to  North's  wishes  George  empowered 
Thurlow,  the  Lord  Chancellor,  to  treat  with  Shel- 
burne.  "  I  will  own,"  he  wrote,  "  that  from  the 
conduct  which  has  hitherto  been  held  by  those  with 
whom  you  have  conversed  I  augur  very  little  good 
from  the  further  prosecution  of  this  business,  and 
nothing  but  the  earnest  desire  I  have  to  unite  my 
subjects  in  the  present  moment  of  danger,  and  to 
form  a  strong  Government  out  of  the  most  able 
and  respectable  of  all  parties,  would  induce  me  to 
make  any  further  attempt.  Influenced,  however,  by 
this  last  motive,  and  in  order  to  make  the  person 
with  whom  you  last  conversed  (if  possible)  more  open 
and  explicit,  I  consent  that  you  should  acquaint  him 
that  Lord  North's  situation  will  not  stand  in  the  way 
of  any  arrangement,  and  that  he  does  not  desire  to 
be  a  part  of  any  new  administration  that  is  to  be 
formed.  This  declaration  ought  to  convince  that 



person  that  I  really  mean  a  coalition  of  parties,  and 
not  merely  to  draw  him  in  to  support  the  present 
Ministry.  If  he  is  satisfied  with  the  opening  (as  I 
think  he  ought),  he  is  through  you  to  state  his  senti- 
ments on  the  future  conduct  of  public  measures,  and 
to  what  degree  the  demands  of  his  friends  may  be 
restrained,  always  understanding  that  I  do  not  mean 
the  quitting  the  one  set  of  men  for  another,  but  the 
healing,  as  far  as  depends  on  me,  the  unhappy  divi- 
sions that  distract  my  kingdom." 

But  Grafton,  who  had  left  the  Government,  per- 
suaded Shelburne  not  to  act  apart  from  the  Rock- 
ingham  faction.  If  a  coalition  were  formed,  a  total 
reversal  of  policy  would  be  demanded.  To  this 
George  would  not  agree.  "  From  the  cold  disdain 
with  which  I  am  treated,  it  is  evident  to  me  what 
treatment  I  am  to  expect  from  Opposition  if  I  was 
to  call  them  now  to  my  service.  Nothing  less  will 
satisfy  them  than  a  total  change  of  measures  and 
men :  to  obtain  their  support  I  must  deliver  up  my 
person,  my  principles,  and  my  dominions  into  their 
hands.  I  must  also  abandon  every  old  meritorious  and 
faithful  servant  I  have  to  be  treated  as  their  resent- 
ment or  their  mercy  may  incline  them.  These  would 
be  hard  terms  indeed  to  a  sovereign  in  any  situation. 
I  trust  to  God  that  mine  is  not  yet  so  bad  as  this. 
I  will  never  make  my  inclinations  alone,  nor  even  my 
own  opinions,  the  sole  rule  of  my  conduct  in  public 
measures  ;  my  first  object  shall  be  the  good  of  my 
people.  I  will  at  all  times  consult  my  Ministers, 
and  place  in  them  as  entire  a  confidence  as  the 
nature  of  this  Government  can  be  supposed  to 



require  of  me.  You,  my  lord,  and  all  who  have 
ever  served  me,  can  do  me  the  justice  to  testify  that 
I  have  not  been  deficient  in  this  respect.  But  none 
of  my  Ministers  can  after  this  trial  advise  me  to 
change  my  Government  totally  and  to  admit  Oppo- 
sition without  any  terms.  My  Parliament  have 
already  shown  since  their  meeting  that  they  are 
in  opinion  against  such  a  desperate  measure,  and 
I  am  confident,  from  all  I  can  learn,  that  it 
is  not  the  wish  of  my  people  at  large.  They  wish 
that  I  would  strengthen  my  Government  by  bring- 
ing into  it  all  that  is  eminent  and  respectable, 
but  they  do  not  wish  that  I  should  turn  out 
one  set  of  men  merely  for  the  purpose  of  bringing 
in  another. 

"  Nothing,  therefore,  remains  for  me  to  do  but  to 
exert  myself,  and  to  call  upon  all  those  who  serve 
me  to  exert  themselves  in  support  of  my  legal 
authority,  and  to  resist  this  formidable  and  desperate 
Opposition.  I  shall  do  it  with  more  confidence  and 
spirit  from  a  consciousness  that  I  have  done  all  which 
it  becomes  a  sovereign  to  do  to  reclaim  the  factious, 
to  form  a  coalition  of  the  great  and  virtuous,  and  to 
unite  all  my  subjects."1 

To  this  appeal  North  again  yielded ;  once  more 
he  consented  to  continue  in  office.  In  February 
1780  Burke  introduced  his  Reform  Bill  relating  to  the 
King's  civil  establishment.  He  proposed  the  aboli- 
tion of  various  Court  officers,  limitation  of  pensions, 
and  the  sale  of  Crown  lands  in  Lancaster,  Cornwall, 
and  Wales.  He  also  proposed  the  abolition  of  the 

1  Letters  to  Lord  North,  vol.  ii.  pp.  298-9. 



Board  of  Trade.1  This  latter  was  agreed  to,  but  the 
rest  of  his  Bill  suffered  death  in  Committee.  Sir 
George  Savile's  motion  for  submitting  a  list  of 
pensions  was  lost  by  only  two  votes,  which  drew  the 
following  comment  from  the  King :  "  Lord  North 
cannot  be  surprised  at  my  having  read  with  some 
astonishment  that  the  majority  was  so  small  this 
morning  in  a  question  which,  if  it  tended  to  any- 
thing, was  to  circumscribe  the  power  of  the  Crown 
to  show  its  benevolence  to  persons  in  narrow  circum- 
stances;  it  shows  what  little  dependence  can  be 
placed  on  the  momentary  whims  that  strike  popular 

On  the  6th  April  the  ever-disaffected  Dunning 
proposed  a  resolution  in  the  Commons,  that  the 
influence  of  the  Crown  has  increased,  is  increasing, 
and  ought  to  be  diminished,  a  resolution  which 
was  carried  with  a  slight  addition  by  233  to  215. 
Another  resolution  that  the  House  was  competent 
to  correct  abuses  in  the  Civil  List  was  passed  with- 
out a  division. 

But  the  Tory  majority  acting  under  pressure  of 
the  country  had  no  intention  of  pulling  the  Oppo- 
sition's chestnuts  out  of  the  fire.  An  address  to 

1  George  wrote :  I  am  sorry  men  should  so  far  lose  their 
reason,  and  let  the  violence  of  the  times  or  fears  actuate  them,  as 
to  forget  the  utility  of  the  Board  of  Trade ;  but  I  trust  on  the  sub- 
sequent questions  of  Mr.  Burke's  Bill  the  numbers  will  again  pre- 
ponderate on  the  side  of  the  Government,  and  consequently,  though 
last  night's  vote  was  unpleasant,  it  will  be  of  no  real  disservice  ; 
since  your  opinion  on  Sunday  rather  made  me  expect  that,  as  has 
happened,  Opposition  would  carry  the  question. — Letters  to  Lord 
North,  vol.  ii.  p.  311. 


the  King  praying  that  he  would  not  dissolve  nor 
prorogue  Parliament  until  measures  had  been  taken 
to  diminish  the  influence  of  the  Crown  was  lost 
by  a  majority  of  fifty-one. 

During  the  whole  of  this  tumultuous  session 
the  attitude  of  the  King's  brother,  the  Duke  of 
Cumberland,  was  of  a  character  to  encourage  violence 
both  inside  and  outside  the  Houses  of  Parliament. 
"  The  whole  political  sentiments  and  conduct  of 
the  Duke  of  Cumberland,"  complained  George, 
"  are  so  averse  to  what  I  think  right,  that  any 
intercourse  between  us  could  only  be  of  a  cold 
and  distant  kind,  and  consequently  very  unpleasant. 
I  shall  therefore  if  such  a  letter  comes  [from  the 
Duke]  return  no  kind  of  answer."1 

Fox's  disappointment  and  spleen  found  expression 
in  mob  oratory,  and  more  than  once  it  seemed  as  if  his 
supporters  would  carry  the  precincts  of  St.  Stephen's 
by  storm.  But  Fox  suddenly  gave  way  as  a  mob 
leader  to  a  demagogue  of  a  different  character. 

Never  were  the  Whigs  loth  to  use  any  decent 
pretext  for  attacking  the  Ministry,  and  often 
many  indecent  ones  were  employed.  But  the 
mob,  ignorant  as  it  was,  was  hardly  ignorant  enough 
to  be  deluded  into  regarding  Fox,  Shelburne, 
and  Richmond  as  fit  champions  of  religion.  In 
1779  a  Bill  had  passed  relieving  the  Dissenting 
ministers  from  subscription  to  the  articles  of  the 
Established  Church,  and  in  the  same  year  the 
Irish  Dissenters  became  immune  from  the  Test 
Act.  Religious  toleration  had  so  far  advanced 

1  Letters  to  Lord  North,  vol.  ii.  p.  320. 


that  a  Bill  freeing  the  English  Catholics  from  some 
of  the  terrible  disabilities  under  which  they  laboured 
was  passed,  and  it  was  announced  that  the  Ministry 
contemplated    bringing    in    a    similar    measure    of 
relief  for  the  Catholics  in    Scotland.      But  on   the 
northern  side  of  the  Tweed  so  vigorously  was  the 
cry  of  "  No  Popery  "  raised,  that  the  Bill  was  aban- 
doned.     The    success   of  the   agitation   encouraged 
the  Protestant  fanatics  to  call  for  the  repeal  of  the 
English  measure.     If  the  Scottish  Protestant  riots 
could  enjoy  such  success,  why  should  not  the  same 
plan  of  agitation   succeed   in   the   south  ?     Where- 
upon a  "  Protestant  association  "  sprang  up,  headed 
by  a  fanatical  member  of  the  House  of  Commons, 
Lord    George   Gordon.      A    monster    petition    was 
arranged,  and  on  the  2nd  June  1780  nearly  60,000 
persons  marched  with  the  document  to  St.  Stephen's. 
A  scene  of  great  disorder  ensued ;   many  members 
were   assaulted,  and  the   lobbies   were   invaded    by 
the   mob,   who   forced   both   peers  and   commoners 
to  cry  "  No  Popery,"  and   affix   blue   cockades   to 
their   hats.     That   day   began   the   famous    Gordon 
riots.      Their   leader,  addressing   the   mob,  declared 
that  the  time  was  at  hand  when  he  would  dictate 
both  to  the  Crown  and  Parliament.     The   King  of 
England  was   a   Papist,   but   let   his   Majesty  dare 
to  depart  from   his   coronation  oath,  and  his   head* 
should  fall  on  the  scaffold !     A  detachment  of  Life 
Guards  frightened  the  rioters  out  of  the   precincts 
of  Westminster,   from   whence   they    proceeded   to 
other  outrages  in  various  parts  of  London.     Roman 
Catholic    chapels   and   several    houses    were   sacked: 


and  partially  destroyed,  and  many  shops  were  plun- 
dered. In  a  few  hours  the  city  was  at  the  mercy 
of  the  mob.  Newgate  was  set  in  flames,  the  gates 
forced,  and  the  prisoners  set  free.  Mansfield's  town 
house  in  Bloomsbury  was  invaded,  and  its  contents, 
including  the  Chief  Justice's  magnificent  library, 
sacrificed  to  the  flames.  The  Bank  of  England 
and  the  Pay  Office  were  also  attacked,  and  on  the 
sixth  day  of  the  riots  thirty-six  separate  conflagra- 
tions unchecked  lit  up  the  town.  Yet  the  Ministry 
when  this  disgraceful  riot  was  at  its  height  dared 
do  nothing.  Military  authorities  knew  to  their 
cost  the  dire  penalties  of  firing  on  a  London  mob 
unless  strongly  backed  by  the  civil  power. 

All  save  the  sovereign  seemed  possessed  by  fear. 
"  I  trust,"  wrote  George,  "  Parliament  will  take  such 
measures  as  the  necessities  of  the  time  require.  This 
tumult  must  be  got  the  better  of,  or  it  will  en- 
courage designing  men  to  use  it  as  a  precedent  for 
assembling  the  people  on  other  occasions.  If  possible 
we  must  get  to  the  bottom  of  it,  and  examples  must 
be  made.  If  anything  occurs  to  Lord  North  wherein 
I  can  give  any  further  assistance  I  shall  be  ready  to 
forward  it,  for  my  attachment  is  to  the  laws  and 
security  of  my  country,  and  to  the  protection  of  the 
lives  and  properties  of  all  my  subjects." 

By  this  time  most  of  the  terrified  magistrates  had 
run  away.  JohnWilkes,  however  ("  never  a  Wilkite  "), 
distinguished  himself  by  his  courage  and  firmness  in 
handling  the  rioters.  The  King  urged  that  Gordon, 
the  avowed  head  of  the  tumult,  should  be  seized 
at  all  odds,  rebuked  the  supineness  of  the  civil 



magistrates,  and  called   for  more  vigour   from   the 
Ministry.     But   for   the  courageous   personal  inter- 
vention  of  the  King  a  general   panic   might   have 
ensued.     On  the  7th,  seeing  how  averse  the  Ministry 
was  to  incur  responsibility,  George  summoned  a  special 
meeting  of  the  Council,  and  was  himself  one  of  the 
first  to  arrive.     There  were  two  important  constitu- 
tional  questions   discussed.     First,    the   amount    of 
provocation   which   in   the   eye    of  the   law   would 
justify  a  magistrate  in  ordering  the  military  to  fire 
upon  the  rioters;    secondly,  whether,   before  giving 
such  an  order,  the  law  demanded  that  the  Riot  Act 
should  have  been  read.    The  timid  Council  hesitated  : 
the  Ministers  could  not  make  up  their  minds.     One 
would  have  thought  that  the  violence  of  the  mob, 
which  even  at  that  moment  could  be  heard  shouting 
in  the   streets,  had  thoroughly  quelled  their  spirit. 
If,  said  George,  they  would  not  give  him  advice,  he 
would  act  without  it.     He  said  he  would  order  his 
horse  to  the  door,  head  his  Guards  in  person,  anc 
forcibly  disperse  the  rioters.     "  I  lament,"  he  added 
"  the  conduct  of  my  magistrates,  but  I  can  answer  foi 
one  who  will  do  his  duty."    He  commanded  Wedder- 
burn,   the   Attorney- General,   to    give   his   opinion 
Wedderburn  answered  and  without  hesitation  that 
if  the  assemblage  of  people  were  engaged  in  an  act 
of  outrage  of  such  a  nature  as  to  amount  to  felony- 
such,  for  instance,  as  the  burning  of  dwelling-houses — 
and  the  civil  power  was  ineffective  to  restrain  them 
it  would  then  become  the  duty  of  all  persons,  not 
excepting   the   soldiers,  to  employ  every  means  at 
their  disposal  to  stay  the  mischief.     In  such  excep 


tional  cases,  he  added,  the  reading  of  the  Riot  Act 
was  rendered  nugatory  and  unnecessary,  and  con- 
sequently, in  the  absence  of  other  opportunities  of 
restoring  order,  it  was  not  only  justifiable  in,  but  the 
actual  duty  of,  the  military  to  attack  the  rioters.1 
"  That  has  always  been  my  own  opinion,1'  remarked 
George  quietly,  "  but  I  have  not  hitherto  ventured 
to  give  it  expression."  He  immediately  issued  an 
order  to  the  commander-in- chief,  Lord  Amherst, 
authorising  him  to  employ  the  military  promptly 
and  vigorously  in  dispersing  the  rioters,  irrespective 
of  any  warrant  from  the  civil  powers.  By  the 
following  day  the  riots  were  over. 

"  Our  danger  is  at  an  end,"  wrote  Gibbon,  then 
a  member  of  Parliament,  "  but  our  disgrace  will 
be  lasting.  The  month  of  June  1780  will  ever  be 
marked  by  a  dark  and  diabolical  fanaticism  which 
I  had  supposed  to  be  extinct."  Several  hundred 
persons  had  lost  their  lives,  over  seventy  houses 
and  four  gaols  had  been  destroyed.  "  If,"  wrote 
Bishop  Newton,  "the  King  of  his  own  motion 
had  not  ordered  forth  the  soldiery,  the  cities  of 
London  and  Westminster  might  have  been  in  ashes." 

"  It  is  incontestable/'  says  another  contemporary, 

1  Altogether  by  the  King's  commands  three  different  Councils 
were  summoned  to  deliberate  respecting  the  riots,  one  on  the 
5th  June,  and  two  on  the  7th.  To  the  last  of  the  three  the  Duke 
of  Portland,  Lord  Rockingham,  Lord  John  Cavendish,  and  others 
of  the  leading  Whigs  were  expressly  invited. — MS.  Entries  in  the 
Privy  Council  Office.  Doubtless  the  main  object  of  the  King  was 
the  natural  and  laudable  one  that  the  stringent  steps  which  were 
about  to  be  taken  for  the  restoration  of  peace  and  order  should  have 
the  sanction  of  men  of  both  parties  in  politics. — Jesse,  vol.  ii.  p.  280. 


"  that  to  the  decision  manifested  by  King  George 
on  that  occasion  the  safety  of  the  metropolis  and 
its  extrication  from  all  the  calamities  that  impended 
over  it  was  principally,  if  not  solely,  to  be  ascribed. 
Elizabeth  or  William  III.  could  not  have  displayed 
more  calm  and  systematic  courage  than  George  III. 
exhibited  in  so  trying  a  moment.  Far  from  throw- 
ing himself  for  support  or  guidance  on  his  Cabinet 
as  a  prince  of  feeble  character  would  have  done, 
he  came  forward  and  exhibited  an  example  of  self- 
devotion  to  his  Ministers."  1 

The  verdict  of  the  prelate  and  the  courtier  has 
not  been  reversed  by  history.  No  fewer  than  285 
of  the  rioters  were  slain,  and  of  the  139  who  stood 
trial,  59  were  condemned  to  death  and  21  executed. 
Wedderburn  got  his  reward  by  being  made  Chief 
Justice  of  the  Common  Pleas,  and  as  Lord  Lough- 
borough  it  fell  to  him  to  preside  at  the  trial  of 
many  of  the  Gordon  rioters.  Acquittal  was  the 
good-fortune  of  the  arch-fanatic  himself,  but  a  few 
years  later,  following  a  term  of  comparative  ob- 
scurity, he  was  imprisoned  for  libel.  During  his 
incarceration  he  showed  the  fantastical  stuff  he  was 
made  of  by  embracing  the  Jewish  faith.  He  died 
in  Newgate  in  1793. 

Meanwhile  the  war  with  France,  Spain,  and 
America  continued  to  wage,  and  England's  enemies 
were  joined  by  Holland.  In  America  Clinton  had 
captured  Charleston,  and  5000  Americans  had  laid 
down  their  arms ;  400  pieces  of  cannon,  three  American 
frigates,  and  a  French  frigate  fell  into  British  hands. 

1  Wraxall,  vol.  i.  p.  24-5. 


On  August  1780  Cornwallis  defeated  the  American 
General  Gates  in  the  signal  victory  of  Camden. 
Tarleton,  the  loyalist  American  commander,  also 
utterly  routed  the  revolutionary  army  under  Sumpter. 
Colonel  Scott,  an  American  prisoner,  told  Lord 
Lincoln  that  the  Americans  were  "  sick  of  the  war  ; 
they  had  only  been  buoyed  up  by  Spanish  gold 
and  by  the  belief  that  England  was  in  the  hands 
of  the  insurrectionists." 

The  news  of  these  victories  greatly  encouraged 
the  King.  Further  encouragement  was  given  to 
him  in  the  memorable  episode  of  Benedict  Arnold. 
Arnold  was  a  brave  and  able  man,  who  had  grown 
disgusted  with  his  treatment  at  the  hands  of  the 
American  Congress.  Desirous  of  returning  to  his 
allegiance,  he  resolved  to  commit  an  act  of  treason 
against  Congress  by  surrendering  the  American 
stronghold  of  West  Point  on  the  Hudson.  A 
young  major,  Andre,  was  entrusted  with  the  task 
of  perfecting  the  negotiations  on  the  British  side. 
Andre  was  captured,  incriminating  papers  were 
found  upon  him,  and  while  Arnold  fled  to  the 
British  lines,  Andre  was  hanged  as  a  spy.  George 
was  greatly  concerned  at  the  death  of  the  unfor- 
tunate man,  and  by  his  orders,  and  at  his  expense, 
was  erected  the  monument  in  Westminster  Abbey 
to  his  memory :  "  To  him  who  fell  a  sacrifice  to 
his  zeal  for  his  King  and  Country."  He  further 
expressed  himself  to  Clinton  as  follows  :— 

"  His  Majesty  has  read  with  much  concern  the 
very  affecting  narrative  of  Major  Andrews  capture 
and  the  fatal  consequences  of  that  misfortune  re- 



lated  in  your  letter,  and  his  Majesty  was  graciously 
pleased  to  express  his  entire  approbation  of  your 
having  complied  with  his  request  of  disposing  of 
his  commission  for  the  advantage  of  his  family. 
And  I  have  the  satisfaction  to  add  that  his  Majesty 
has  further  extended  his  royal  bounty  to  Major  i 
Andre's  mother  by  the  grant  of  a  pension,  and 
has  offered  to  confer  the  honour  of  knighthood  on 
his  brother  in  order  to  wipe  away  all  stain  from 
the  family  that  the  ignominy  of  the  death  he  \ 
was  so  unjustly  put  to  might  be  thought  to  have 
occasioned." 1 

On  the   4th    March    1781   the    King    conferred  \ 
not    knighthood   only   but    a    baronetcy   on    Major  I 
Andre's  brother,   William  Lewis  Andre,  at   whose  [ 
death,    on    the    llth    November    1802,     the    title 
became  extinct. 

Soon  after  escaping  to  the  Vulture  Arnold 
published  an  explanation  of  his  conduct  to  the 
Americans,  describing  his  leaning  towards  loyalism 
and  his  disapproval  of  the  Declaration  of  Indepen- 
dence, except  as  a  mere  means  of  obtaining  redress 
of  grievances.  He  denounced  the  persistence  in 
war  and  the  attempt  to  dismember  the  British 
Empire  after  the  peace  terms  of  1778,  which^ offered 
all  the  redress  of  grievances  which  the  patriots  had 
originally  demanded.  The  American  alliance  with 
France  was  with  "  a  monarchy  too  feeble  to  estab- 
lish your  independence  so  perilous  to  her  distant 
dominions  ;  the  enemy  of  the  Protestant  faith,  and 
fraudulently  avowing  an  affection  for  the  liberties 

1  Sparks's  Life  of  Benedict  Arnold,  p.  808. 


of  mankind,  while  she  holds  her  native  sons  in 
vassalage  and  chains." 

Arnold's  action  only  confirmed  the  King  that 
a  large  and  influential  body  of  the  Americans  were 
anxious  to  effect  a  reconciliation  with  the  Mother 
Country  on  almost  any  terms,  and  he  was  little 
likely,  such  being  the  case,  to  consent  to  any  abridg- 
ment of  hostilities,  or  any  slackening  of  the  efforts 
to  achieve  the  result  for  which  the  war  had  so  long 
been  waged.  On  the  1st  September  George  had 
suddenly,  on  Loughborough's  advice,  dissolved  the 
Parliament,  which  had  then  been  six  years  in  exist- 
ence. "  The  Court,"  said  he,  "  was  losing  ground 
daily,  and  a  trial  of  the  country  was  the  best  step." 
The  elections  showed  that  the  King's  popularity 
was  unshaken. 

When  the  session  was  opened  by  the  King  on 
the  last  day  of  October,  among  the  new  members 
was  William  Pitt,  the  late  Earl  Chatham's  second 
son,  who  was  returned  for  Appleby.  Pitt  was  then 
in  his  twenty-second  year,  and  was  already  a 
stirring  orator,  and  a  man  to  whose  judgment  on 
affairs  great  weight  was  properly  attached.  He 
ranged  himself  on  the  side  of  the  Opposition  under 
Shelburne.  Another  new  member  was  Sheridan, 
the  dramatist,  who  came  in  as  a  friend  of  Fox. 
The  selection  of  a  Speaker  occasioned  a  quarrel. 
The  ill-tempered  Sir  Fletcher  Norton,  who  had 
deeply  offended  the  King  by  his  speech  on  the 
Civil  List  in  1777,  was  once  more  proposed  for  the 
office.  He  was  beaten  by  302  votes  to  134  in 
favour  of  the  Ministerial  candidate,  Cornwall.  George 

2  A  369 


in  his  speech  from  the  throne  complained  of  the 
unprovoked  conduct  of  France  and  Spain;  he  con- 
gratulated himself  and  his  people  on  the  recent 
successes  of  the  British  army  in  Georgia  and 
Carolina.  Amendments  to  the  address  moved  in  j 
both  Houses  were  rejected  by  large  majorities,  j 
The  same  fate  overtook  motions  deprecating  the 
American  war,  and  Fox's  indecent  expressions  con- 
cerning the  conflict  were  generally  condemned. 
His  sneers  at  the  victories,  and  hopes  that  they 
would  soon  be  converted  into  defeats,  stamped  the 
desperate  and  irreconcilable  character  of  the  man. 

If  good  news  from  America  continued  to  arrive, 
Lord  North's  Ministry  would  not  be  supplanted. 
Vergennes's  patience  was  almost  exhausted  at  the 
persistent  and  shameless  American  demands  for 
money,  and  France  was  well-nigh  bankrupt.  He 
even  went  the  length  of  suggesting  to  the  Americans 
a  long  truce,  by  which  both  King  George  and  the 
Congress  would  divide  the  country  between  them. 
Had  the  British  fleet  been  master  of  the  North 
Atlantic  and  the  West  Indian  waters  the  impend-  | 
ing  disaster  of  Yorktown  would  probably  never  have  j 

In  conversation  with  Lord  Hertford,  shortly 
before  the  news  of  the  surrender  at  Yorktown  had 
reached  him,  the  King  said,  "  I  know  my  enemies  are 
superior  everywhere.  I  am  as  desirous  of  peace  as 
any  man ;  but  how  can  I  make  it,  when  France  and 
Spain  are  so  unreasonable  ?  "  He  remarked  that  they 
demanded  Gibraltar  and  Port  Mahon.  It  was  said 
that  the  Emperor  had  offered  to  make  peace  ;  to 

(From  the  Portrait  by  Hoppner) 


this  George  made  reply,  "  I  want  nobody  to  make 
peace  for  me ;  when  France  and  Spain,  who  make 
unjust  war  upon  me,  will  make  me  amends,  I  shall 
be  ready  to  make  peace." 

"  It  cannot  be  denied,"  says  Mr.  Donne,  who  is 
generally  disparaging  of  George,  "  that  the  King  was 
encouraged  in  his  aversion  to  admit  the  independence 
of  America,  even  at  the  eleventh  hour  of  the  struggle, 
by  the  general  feeling  of  this  country.  It  was  not 
only  by  Fast-sermons  and  by  Parliamentary  speeches 
that  his  delusion  was  confirmed.  One  of  the  most 
pious  and  humane  men  then  in  Britain,  and  whose 
opinion  is  not  less  valuable  because  he  who  held  it 
was  a  recluse,  endorses  the  sentiments  of  Markham, 
Sandwich,  and  Germain." 

It  is  to  the  poet  William  Cowper  that  the  fore- 
going reference  is  made.  He  wrote  to  the  Rev.  John 
Newton,  13th  January  1782,  words  that  well  deserve 
to  be  deeply  conned  by  every  student  of  the  American 
schism  :  "  What  course  can  Government  take  ?  I  have 
heard  (for  I  never  made  the  experiment)  that  if  a 
man  grasp  a  red-hot  iron  with  his  naked  hand  it  will 
stick  to  him,  so  that  he  cannot  presently  disengage 
himself  from  it.  Such  are  the  Colonies  in  the  hands  of 
Administration.  While  they  hold  them  they  burn 
their  fingers,  and  yet  they  must  not  quit  them.  It 
appears  to  me  that  the  King  is  bound,  both  by  the 
duty  he  owes  to  himself  and  his  people,  to  consider 
himself  with  respect  to  every  inch  of  his  territory  as 
a  trustee,  deriving  his  interest  in  them  from  God, 
and  invested  with  them  by  Divine  authority  for  the 
benefit  of  his  subjects.  As  he  may  not  sell  them  or 


waste  them,  so  he  may  not  resign  them  to  an  enemy 
or  transfer  his  right  to  govern  them  to  any,  not  eve 
to  themselves,  so  long  as  it  is  possible  for  him  to  keep 
it.     If  he  does,  he  betrays  at  once  his  own  interest 
and  that  of  his  other  dominions.     Viewing  the  thing 
in  this  light,  if  I  sat  on  the  King's  throne  I  should  be  I 
as  obstinate  as  he,  because  if  I  quitted  the  contest 
while  I  had  means  left  of  carrying  it  on,  I  should 
never  know  that  I  had  not  relinquished  what  I  might  j 
have   retained,  or  be  able  to   render   a   satisfactory 
account  to  the  doubts  and  inquiries  of  my  own  con-  I 

science." l 

Cornwallis's   surrender   took    place   on   the    19th 
October  1781.     On  Sunday  the  25th  November,  two 
days  before  Parliament  reassembled,  the  despatch  con- 
taining the  news  of  this  great  British  reverse  reached 
Lord  George  Germain.     He  instantly  sent  the  de- 
spatch to  the  King  at  Kew,  and  walked  over  to  Down- 
ing Street  from  Pall  Mall  to  break  the  news  to  the 
Prime  Minister.     "  I  asked  Lord  George  afterwards," 
says  Wraxall,  "  how  he  (Lord  North)  took  the  com- 
munication when  made  to  him  ? — '  As  he  would  have  I 
taken    a   bullet   through   his   breast,'   replied   Lord  I 
George  ;  '  for  he  opened  his  arms,  exclaiming  wildly  I 
as  he  paced  up  and  down  the  apartment  a  few  minutes,  j 
*  Oh  God  !  it  is  all  over  ! ' — words  which  he  repeated 
many  times  under  emotions  of  the  greatest  consterna- 
tion and  distress."  2 

1  Letters  of  William  Cowper. 

2  Wraxall's  Historical  Memoirs,  vol.  ii.  pp.  434-5. 




CORN w ALMS'S  defeat  virtually  secured  independence 
to  the  American  revolutionaries.  The  strength  of 
the  loyalists  had  gradually  been  sapped.  The  reign 
of  terror  had  done  its  worst,  and  those  who  had  not 
already  found  refuge  within  the  British  lines  were 
fain  to  accept  the  domination  of  the  "  patriots." 

They  had  this  comfort,  and  this  alone  :  in  the  face 
of  this  terrible  disaster  their  King  was  with  them. 
George's  fortitude  and  equanimity  were  unshaken. 

Entertaining  some  political  friends  to  dinner, 
Germain  received  a  note  from  the  King.  All  eyes 
were  upon  him  as  he  tore  open  the  seal.  They 
wondered  how  their  sovereign  would  take  the  news. 
A  moment  later  the  host  remarked  to  Lord  Wal- 
singham,  "  The  King  writes  just  as  he  always  does, 
except  that  I  observe  he  has  omitted  to  mark  the 
hour  and  minute  of  his  writing  with  his  usual 

"  1  have  received,"  wrote  George,  "  with  senti- 
ments of  the  deepest  concern  the  communication 
which  Lord  George  Germain  has  made  me  of  the 
unfortunate  result  of  the  operations  in  Virginia. 
I  particularly  lament  it  on  account  of  the  conse- 
quences connected  with  it,  and  the  difficulties  which 



it  may  produce  in  carrying  on  the  public  business,  or 
in  repairing  such  a  misfortune.  But  I  trust  that 
neither  Lord  George  Germain  nor  any  member  of 
the  Cabinet  will  suppose  that  it  makes  the  smallest 
alteration  in  those  principles  of  my  conduct  which 
have  directed  me  in  past  time,  and  which  will  always 
continue  to  animate  me  under  every  event  in  the 
prosecution  of  the  present  contest."1 

In  two  days  Parliament  was  to  meet.  It  had 
become  necessary  to  alter  and  almost  to  reconstruct 
the  King's  Speech,  which  had  been  prepared.  On  the 
27th  of  November  the  King  opened  the  session. 
Retaining  a  firm  confidence,  he  said,  in  the 
wisdom  and  protection  of  Divine  Providence,  and 
firmly  convinced  of  the  justice  of  his  cause,  he  had 
no  doubt  but  that  by  the  concurrence  and  support 
of  Parliament,  by  the  valour  of  his  fleets  and  armies, 
and  by  a  vigorous,  animated,  and  united  exertion 
of  the  faculties  and  resources  of  his  people,  he  should 
be  able  to  restore  the  blessings  of  peace  to  his 

Shelburne,  Fox,  and  Burke  reopened  their  heavy 
artillery,  yet  the  King  could  still  command  respect- 
able majorities  in  both  Houses.  "  Those  persons," 
declared  Fox,  "  who  might  chance  to  be  ignorant  that 
the  speech  from  the  throne  was  the  composition  not 
of  the  sovereign  himself,  but  of  a  Cabinet  Council, 
would  set  it  down  as  containing  the  sentiments  of 
some  arbitrary,  despotic,  hard-hearted,  and  unfeeling 
monarch,  who,  having  involved  his  subjects  in  a 

1  Huish,  p.  417. 

2  Parliamentary  History ,  vol.  xxii.  col.  637. 



ruinous  and  unnatural  war  to  glut  his  feelings  of 
revenge,  was  determined  to  persevere  in  it  in  spite 
of  calamity  and  even  of  fate.  Divest  the  speech," 
said  Fox,  "of  its  official  forms,  and  what  was  its 
purport  ?  '  Our  losses  in  America  have  been  most 
calamitous.  The  blood  of  my  subjects  has  flowed 
in  copious  streams.  The  treasures  of  Great  Britain 
have  been  wantonly  lavished.  The  load  of  taxes 
imposed  on  an  over-burthened  country  is  become 
intolerable.  My  rage  for  conquest  is  unquenched, 
my  revenge  unsated,  nor  can  anything  except  the 
total  subjugation  of  my  revolted  American  subjects 
allay  my  animosity.'  As  for  Ministers,"  he  added, 
"  they  were  a  curse  to  their  country  ;  they  had  made 
Great  Britain  an  object  of  scorn  and  derision  to  the 
nations  of  the  earth.  But,"  said  Fox,  "  the  time  will 
surely  come  when  an  oppressed  and  irritated  people 
will  firmly  call  for  signal  punishment  on  those  whose 
counsels  have  brought  the  nation  so  near  to  the  brink 
of  destruction.  An  indignant  nation  would  surely 
in  the  end  compel  them  to  make  some  faint  atone- 
ment for  the  magnitude  of  their  offences  on  a  public 

North's  reply  to  this  diatribe  was  forcible  and 
dignified,  and  should  have  been  as  convincing  in  1781 
as  it  is  to-day.  He  observed  that  Ministers  had  been 
accused  of  having  instituted  and  persevered  in  the 
American  war  for  the  purpose  of  adding  to  the 
influence  of  the  Crown.  The  charge  was  both 
injurious  and  unjust.  "  Did  not  men  know"  he  asked, 
"that  the  Americans  wished  to  be  governed  by  the 
King  and  their  own  Assemblies,  and  that  they  went 



to   war  because  they  would  not  be  governed  by  the  ( 
legislature   of    Great    Britain  ? "      It    was    not   to  i 
increase  the   influence  of  the  Crown,   but   for   the  j: 
sake  of  the  Constitution — for  the  sake  of  preserving  ; 
the  supremacy  and  just  rights  and  privileges  of  the  j 
Parliament  of  Great  Britain — that  the  war  with  the  j 
Colonies  had  been  carried  on.     A  melancholy  disaster  J 
had  befallen  British  arms  in  Virginia,  "  but  were  we 
on  that  account  to  lie  down  and  die  ?     No  !  it  ought 
rather  to  rouse,  to  urge,  to  impel,  to  animate  us  into 
action.     By   bold   and   united   exertions  everything 
might    yet    be    saved.      By   dejection   and   despair 
everything  must  inevitably  be  lost."     He  had  been 
threatened    during   the    debate,   he    said,   with    im- 
peachment and  the  scaffold,  but  that  threat  should 
not  deter  him  from  doing  his  utmost  to  preserve  the 
rights  and  legislative  authority  of  Parliament.     The 
war  with  America  had  been  unfortunate,  but  it  was 
not  on  that  account  necessarily  an  unjust  one.1 

The  address  was  carried  by  a  large  majority, 
although  as  was  inevitable  there  were  already  some 
Tories  ready  to  retreat. 

George  wrote  to  North  the  following  morning 
that  he  was  not  at  all  surprised  that  some  principal  ! 
members  had  wavered  in  their  sentiments  as  to 
the  measures  to  be  pursued.  "  Many  men  chose 
rather  to  despond  on  difficulties  than  see  how  to 
get  out  of  them.  I  have  already  directed  Lord 
George  Germain  to  put  on  paper  the  mode  that 
seems  most  feasible  for  conducting  the  war  that 
every  member  of  the  Cabinet  may  have  his  pro-  ; 

1   Parliamentary  History,  vol.  xxii.  cols.  715-17. 



positions  to  weigh  by  themselves,  when  I  shall 
expect  to  hear  their  sentiments  separately,  that 
we  may  adopt  a  plan  and  abide  by  it.  Fluctuating 
counsels,  and  taking  up  measures  without  con- 
necting them  with  the  whole  of  this  complicated 
war,  must  make  us  weak  in  every  part.  With 
the  assistance  of  Parliament  I  do  not  doubt,  if 
measures  are  well  connected,  a  good  end  may  yet 
be  made  to  the  war.  If  we  despond,  certain  ruin 


"  The  warmth  of  the  House,"  wrote  Walpole 
to  Mann,  "  is  prodigiously  rekindled,  but  Lord 
Cornwallis's  fate  has  caused  no  ground  to  be  lost 
by  the  Ministry.  Eloquence  is  the  only  one  of 
our  qualities  which  does  not  seem  to  have  degene- 
rated rapidly."  On  the  same  evening  George  wrote 
to  his  Minister :  "  I  cannot  say  I  expected  the  debate 
of  to-day  would  have  been  so  short,  considering 
the  great  love  modern  orators  have  of  hearing  them- 
selves speak ;  the  division  was  certainly  a  very 
good  one  ;  and  I  have  no  doubt,  when  men  are  a 
little  recovered  of  the  shock  felt  by  the  bad  news, 
and  feel  that  if  we  recede  no  one  can  tell  to  what 
a  degree  the  consequence  of  this  country  will  be 
diminished,  that  they  will  then  find  the  necessity 
of  carrying  on  the  war,  though  the  mode  of  it 
may  require  alterations." 

Victories  at  this  stage  could  only  arrest  the 
progress  of  decay.  The  weakening  of  the  Ministry 
had  begun,  and  one  or  two  British  maritime  re- 
verses accelerated  the  process.  Sandwich  was 
bitterly  attacked.  The  unpopularity  of  Lord  George 



Germain  was  general.  To  end  the  American  war 
was  now  North's  policy,  and  he  suggested  Germain's 
retirement.  Another  commander-in-chief  in  America 
must  succeed  Sir  Henry  Clinton,  and  the  King 
thought  Carleton  was  the  best  man.  "  Undoubtedly," 
wrote  George  on  December  26th,  "if  Sir  Guy 
Carleton  can  be  persuaded  to  go  to  America,  he  is 
in  every  way  the  best  suited  for  the  service.  He 
and  Lord  G.  Germain  are  incompatible.  Lord 
George  is  certainly  not  unwilling  to  retire  if  he 
gets  his  object,  which  is  a  peerage;  no  one  can 
then  say  he  is  disgraced  ;  and  when  his  retreat  is 
accompanied  with  the  appointment  of  Sir  Guy 
Carleton,  the  cause  of  it  will  naturally  appear 
without  its  being  possible  to  be  laid  with  any 
reason  to  a  change  in  my  sentiments  on  the  great 
essential  point,  namely,  the  getting  a  peace  at 
the  expense  of  a  separation  from  America,  which 
is  a  step  to  which  no  difficulties  shall  ever  get  me 
to  be  in  the  smallest  degree  an  instrument. 

"  If  Lord  North  agrees  with  me  that  on  the 
whole  it  is  best  to  gratify  the  wishes  of  Lord  George 
Germain  and  let  him  retire,  that  no  time  may 
be  lost  I  desire  he  will  immediately  sound  Mr. 
Jenkinson  as  to  his  succeeding  him,  for  I  must 
be  ready  with  a  successor  before  I  move  a  single 

On  his  retirement  Germain  was  created  Viscount 
Sackville.  Such  a  distinction  exposed  the  new- 
made  Peer  to  the  old  charges  concerning  his  con- 
duct as  an  officer  at  Minden.  Carmarthen  moved 
in  the  Lords  "  That  to  recommend  to  the  Crown 



for  such  a  dignity  any  person  labouring  under  a 
sentence  of  court-martial  was  derogatory  to  the 
honour  of  the  House."  But  the  motion,  which 
was  met  by  Germain  with  quiet  dignity,  was  thrown 
out  by  a  large  majority. 

Fox  and  the  Opposition  gathered  strength  daily. 

On  the   22nd  February  1782   Conway's  motion  for 

ending  the  American  war  was  defeated  by  only  a 

single  vote.     The  end  was  indeed  at  hand,  and  North 

strove  to  persuade  the  King  to  an  immediate  change 

of  advisers,  yet  George  was  still  firm  against  a  separa- 

tion from  America.     "  I  shall,"  he  wrote,  "  never  lose 

['  an  opportunity  of  declaring  that  no  consideration  shall 

j  ever  make  me  in  the  smallest  degree  an  instrument 

in  a  measure  that  I  am  confident  would  annihilate 

j  the  rank  in  which  this  British  Empire  stands  among 

the  European  States,  and  would   render  my  situa- 

tion  in   this    country   below    continuing   an   object 


"  Undoubtedly,"  he  wrote  again  on  the  6th  Feb- 
ruary, "  the  House  of  Commons  seems  to  be  so  wild 
at  present,  and  so  running  on  to  ruin,  that  no  man 
can  answer  for  the  event  of  any  question.  Till 
driven  to  the  wall  I  certainly  will  do  what  I  can 
|  to  save  the  Empire  ;  and  if  I  do  not  succeed,  I  will 
at  least  have  the  self-approbation  of  having  done  my 
duty,  and  of  not  letting  myself  be  a  tool  in  the 
destruction  of  the  honour  of  the  country." 

To  the  Commons  on  the  5th  March  North  an- 
nounced his  resolution  not  to  quit  his  post  until  he 
should  receive  his  royal  master's  command  to  leave  it, 
or  till  the  will  of  the  House,  expressed  in  the  most 



unequivocal  terms,  should  point  out  the  propriety  of 
his  resignation.  "  As  to  the  emoluments  of  my 
situation,"  he  exclaimed,  "  God  knows,  were  they 
forty  times  greater  than  they  are,  they  would  form 
no  adequate  compensation  for  my  anxiety  and  vexa- 
tions, aggravated  by  the  uncandid  treatment  that  I 
frequently  experience  within  these  walls.  It  is  not 
love  of  power  or  of  greatness  that  retains  me  in  my 
place.  I  speak  in  the  presence  of  individuals  who 
know  how  little  I  am  attached  to  either." 

George  severely  criticised  these  tactics.  He  re- 
garded North's  "throwing  himself  into  the  hands  of 
the  Opposition"  as  nothing  short  of  disaster,  but 
would  wait  until  the  20th,  when  the  issue  of  Lord 
Surrey's  second  vote  of  want  of  confidence  in  the 
Ministry.  The  Lord  Chancellor,  Thurlow,  was  sent 
to  negotiate  with  Rockingham ;  but  Rockingham's 
terms  proved  too  exorbitant.1  North  pleaded  that 
the  Opposition  should  be  sent  for  before,  but  he 
pleaded  in  vain.  "After  having  yesterday  in  the 
most  solemn  manner,"  wrote  his  sovereign,  "  assured 
you  that  my  sentiments  of  honour  will  not  permit 
me  to  send  for  any  of  the  leaders  of  Opposition  and 
personally  treat  with  them,  I  could  not  but  be  hurt  i 
at  your  letter  of  last  night.  Every  man  must  be  the  ! 
sole  judge  of  his  feelings,  therefore  whatever  you  or 
any  man  can  say  on  that  subject  has  no  avail  with 
me.  Till  I  have  heard  what  the  Chancellor  has  done 
from  his  own  mouth,  I  shall  not  take  any  step  ;  and 

1  "Lord  Rockingham,"    said    Thurlow,  "was   bringing  things 
to  a  pass  where  either  his  head  or  the  King's  must  go  in  order  { 
to  settle  which  of  them  was  to  govern." 



if  you  resign  before  I  have  decided  what  I  will  do, 
you  will  certainly  for  ever  forfeit  my  regard." 

His  honest,  valiant  spirit  suffered  anguish  for 
twenty-four  hours.  Then  he  yielded  and  became 
calm.  At  the  very  moment  when  the  Houses  of 
Parliament  were  packed  with  members  in  anticipation 
of  a  stormy  debate  North  was  closeted  with  the 
King.  George  had  slept  little  the  previous  night. 
He  had,  he  said,  briefly  considered  well  the  temper 
of  the  Commons,  and  thought  the  administration 
better  at  an  end.  "  Well,  sir,"  said  North,  "  had  I 
not  better  state  the  fact  at  once  ? "  The  King  nodded. 
"  You  may  do  so,"  he  said.  North  went  straightway 
to  St.  Stephen's  and  announced  the  resignation  of 
the  Ministry.  The  one  crumb  of  comfort  left  to 
the  King  in  his  distress  was  the  dissension  already 
apparent  in  the  ranks  of  Opposition.  Nor  was  dis- 
sension extraordinary.  The  Rockingham  and  Shel- 
burne  factions  had  entirely  different  political  aims. 
Rockingham  represented  the  Whig  aristocrats,  who 
strongly  opposed  the  royal  prerogative,  and  who 
had  long  advocated  American  independence.  Shel- 
burne,  as  the  successor  of  Chatham,  opposed  "  govern- 
ment by  connection,"  believed  in  giving  the  King  a 
share  in  government,  and  opposed  the  independence 
of  America. 

Acting  in  the  King's  interest  Thurlow  ap- 
proached Shelburne,  but  Shelburne,  much  as  he  dif- 
fered, thought  he  could  not  afford  to  quarrel  with  the 
Rockingham  party,  whose  leader  had  a  prior  claim. 
George  then  sent  for  Earl  Gower,  but  he  was  "  too 
indolent  or  too  timid  to  accept  the  post."  Shelburne 



had  a  second  interview  with  the  King,  and  on  his 
representations  was  empowered  to  negotiate  with 
Rockingham,  whom,  however,  George  refused  to 
receive  into  his  closet  until  the  Cabinet  had  been 
formed.  Shelburne  became  Secretary  for  Home,  Irish, 
and  Colonial  affairs ;  Fox  became  Foreign  Minister ; 
Grafton,  Privy  Seal ;  Lord  John  Cavendish,  Chan- 
cellor of  the  Exchequer ;  Keppel,  First  Lord  of  the 
Admiralty ;  Camden,  President  of  the  Council ; 
and  Conway,  Commander-in-Chief.  Thurlow  was 
retained  as  Chancellor  in  the  Cabinet  of  which 
Rockingham  was  First  Lord  of  the  Treasury.  To 
young  Pitt  the  lucrative  post  of  Vice-Treasurer  of 
Ireland  had  been  offered.  But  young  as  he  was, 
Pitt,  with  admirable  self-confidence  and  prescience, 
had  loftily  declared  that  he  would  accept  no  sub- 
ordinate post  under  any  Government.  On  the  27th 
March  Rockingham  was  granted  his  first  official 
interview  with  the  King.  It  was  then  that  Rock- 
ingham proposed  his  terms,  which  in  brief  consisted 
of  the  acknowledgment  of  American  independence, 
the  curtailment  of  the  influence  of  the  Crown, 
the  disqualification  of  contractors  from  becoming 
members  of  Parliament,  the  exclusion  of  revenue 
officers  from  the  Parliamentary  suffrage,  the  aboli- 
tion of  sinecure  offices,  and  the  introduction  of  a 
system  of  economy  into  the  Government  service. 

"At  last,"  wrote  George  to  North,  27th  March 
1782,  "  the  fatal  day  is  come  which  the  misfortunes 
of  the  times  and  the  sudden  change  of  sentiments  of 
the  House  of  Commons  have  drove  me  to — of  chang- 
ing the  Ministry,  and  a  more  general  removal  of  other 


persons  than  I  believe  ever  was  known  before.  I 
have  to  the  last  fought  for  individuals,  but  the 
number  I  have  saved,  except  my  Bedchamber,  is 
incredibly  few.  You  would  hardly  believe  that  even 
the  Duke  of  Montagu  was  strongly  run  at ;  but  I 
declared  that  I  would  sooner  let  confusion  follow 
than  part  with  the  governor  of  my  sons  and  so 
unexceptional  a  man.  At  last  I  have  succeeded, 
so  that  he  and  Lord  Ashburnham  remain.  The 
effusion  of  my  sorrows  has  made  me  say  more  than 
I  had  intended,  but  I  ever  did,  and  ever  shall,  look 
on  you  as  a  friend  as  well  as  a  faithful  servant. 
Pray  acquaint  the  Cabinet  that  they  must  this  day 
attend  at  St.  James's  to  resign.  I  shall  hope  to 
be  there  if  possible  by  one,  and  will  receive  them 
before  the  levee,  as  I  think  it  would  be  awkward 
to  have  the  new  people  presented  at  the  levee 
prior  to  the  resignations." 

On  the  same  day  the  King  wrote  to  Lord 
Dartmouth  :  "  Though  I  have  directed  Lord  North 
this  morning  to  acquaint  all  the  Cabinet  that  they 
must  come  and  resign  their  respective  offices  before 
the  levee  this  day,  as  I  think  it  would  make  an  odd 
medley,  therefore  I  shall,  if  possible,  be  at  St.  James's 
before  one  for  that  melancholy  purpose.  I  own  I 
could  not  let  Lord  Dartmouth  hear  this  without 
writing  him  a  few  lines  to  aver  how  very  near  he 
will  always  be  to  my  heart,  and  that  I  have  ever 
esteemed  him  since  I  have  thoroughly  known  him 
in  another  light  than  any  of  his  companions  in 
Ministry.  What  days  it  has  pleased  the  Almighty 
to  place  me  in,  when  Lord  Dartmouth  can  be  a 



man  to  be  removed  but  at  his  own  request !  But  I 
cannot  complain.  I  adore  the  will  of  Providence, 
and  will  ever  resign  myself  obediently  to  His  will. 
My  heart  is  too  full  to  say  more." 

North  retired  with  a  pension  of  £4000  a  year. 
He  had,  says  Walpole,  "  besides  the  office  of  Prime 
Minister  and  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer,  received 
the  Garter,  the  place  of  Warden  of  the  Cinque 
Ports,  a  Patent  place  for  his  son,  Bushey  Park  for 
his  wife,  a  pension  of  £4000  on  his  late  resigna- 
tion, and,  some  said,  a  grant  of  part  of  the  Savoy, 
though  that  has  not  been  verified.  His  father  was 
Treasurer  to  the  Queen,  and  his  brother  has  the 
Bishopric  of  Winchester."  For  a  man  who  did 
not  care  for  emoluments  or  honours  this  was  doing 
pretty  well. 

A  few  weeks  after  North's  resignation  the  King 
addressed  him  a  letter,  pointing  out  the  shameful 
neglect  with  which  the  accounts  had  latterly  been 
managed,  especially  those  of  the  secret  service,  the 
account  books  of  which  were  two  years  in  arrear. 
"  No  business,"  said  George,  "  can  ever  be  admitted 
for  not  doing  that."  North  seems  to  have  taken  the 
reprimand  much  to  heart.  He  had  endeavoured,  he 
wrote,  through  the  course  of  his  life  to  promote  the 
King's  service  to  the  best  of  his  judgment ;  "  no  one 
can  better  know  his  unfitness  for  the  office  he  held 
than  he  did  himself,  and  the  King  will  do  him  the 
justice  to  own  that  from  the  very  first  he  frequently 
and  repeatedly  represented  his  incapacity  and  soli- 
cited for  his  dismission.  The  uneasiness  of  his  mind, 
arising  from  the  consciousness  of  his  being  inade- 


(From  the  Portrait  by  Reynolds) 


quate  to  his  situation,  greatly  impaired  his  faculties, 
and  is  now,  he  fears,  undermining  his  constitution. 
He  hopes  the  King  will  not  embitter  the  remainder 
of  his  days  by  withdrawing  from  him  that  good 
opinion  which  he  has  long,  and  often  by  the  sacri- 
fice of  his  inclinations  and  private  comfort,  en- 
deavoured to  deserve." 

All  this  was  very  well,  and  a  frank  avowal  of 
his  being  "  inadequate  to  his  situation  "  softened  the 
King's  asperity.  But  North,  with  a  far  stronger 
physique,  never  worked  as  hard  as  the  second  Pitt, 
his  successor,  and  he  had  been  well  rewarded  for  his 
labours.  The  truth  is,  North's  character  had  under- 
gone a  change  far  greater  than  his  body. 

For  the  moment  the  Whigs  were  victorious. 
After  nearly  fifteen  years'  exclusion  they  returned 
to  taste  the  sweets  of  power.  The  new  adminis- 
tration was  dubbed  the  "  Regency,"  and  the  new 
Ministers  the  "  Regents."  A  caricature  of  the  day, 
entitled  "  The  Captive  Prince,  or  Liberty  run 
Mad,"  represents  Shelburne,  Richmond,  Keppel,  and 
Fox  fixing  fetters  on  the  King's  feet  and  ankles, 
while  the  last  three  are  severally  made  to  exclaim, 
"  I  command  the  Ordnance " — "  I  command  the 
Fleet" — "I  command  the  mob."  In  the  meantime 
the  world,  according  to  Walpole,  looked  on  and 
smiled  at  the  phenomenon  of  half-a-dozen  great 
lords  claiming  "  an  hereditary  and  exclusive  right " 
to  retain  the  Government  in  their  families,  "like 
the  Hebrew  priesthood  in  one  tribe." 

Albeit  George  was  not  without  a  triumph  of  his 
wn.     He  had  succeeded  in  retaining  Thurlow,  upon 

2  B  385 


whose  support  he  could  count.  If  the  new  Govern- 
ment proved  itself  a  good  Government,  strong  in 
purpose,  vigorous  in  action,  he  was  far  from  refusing 
it  the  royal  countenance.  He  would  be  the  first 
man  to  rejoice.  It  went  much  against  his  heart  even 
to  contemplate  the  abandonment  of  the  American 
loyalists,  but  if  a  decent  treaty  could  be  made,  he 
himself  was,  as  he  said,  on  the  side  of  peace. 

While  there  was  no  single  member,  save  Thurlow, 
of  the  Ministry  who  could  properly  be  called  person  a 
grata  to  the  King,  and  many  for  whom  he  felt  the 
utmost  repugnance,  yet  he  lent  them  all  the  co- 
operation in  his  power.  Inveterate  as  the  Whigs 
were  in  their  prejudices,  they  soon  began  to  realise 
that  their  conception  of  George's  character  and 
abilities  had  been  grossly  unjust.  Every  interview 
that  Fox  and  Shelburne  had  with  the  King  served 
further  ,  to  open  their  eyes.  We  find  Shelburne 
actually  expressing  to  Thurlow  his  amazement  at 
the  amount  of  genius  he  had  discovered  in  his  royal 
master.  "  The  King,"  wrote  Fox  on  the  15th  April, 
"  seems  in  perfect  good-humour,  and  does  not  seem 
to  make  any  of  those  difficulties  which  others  make 
for  him."1  Burke,  lately  venting  his  vocabulary  of 
vituperation  on  the  monarch,  is  found  lauding  the 
royal  message  as  "  the  best  of  messages  from  the 
best  of  Kings."  A  couple  of  months  later  Richmond 
felt  it  incumbent  upon  him  to  "  declare  that  hi 
Majesty  had  performed  with  religious  scrupulosit 
all  that  he  had  promised."  Shelburne's  testimon 
went  even  further:  "His  Majesty,"  he  said,  "h 

1   Russell's  Memorials  of  Fox,  vol.  i.  pp.  314-15. 



not  only  performed  all  that  he  had  promised,  but  he 
had  done  a  great  deal  more  than  he  had  promised, 
when  it  was  in  his  power  to  have  evaded  the  per- 
formance of  that  which  he  had  promised.  And  this 
he  would  say  with  truth,  that  a  Prince  more  dis- 
posed to  comply  with  the  wishes  of  his  people  he 
believed  never  sat  on  the  British  throne." l 

The  Rockingham  Ministry,  although  passing 
several  useful  measures  and  establishing  the  legis- 
lative independence  of  Ireland,  soon  began  to  quarrel. 
Fox  wished  American  independence  to  be  imme- 
diately recognised.  If  this  were  done  he  believed 
the  Americans  would  be  detached  from  the  French 
alliance,  and  he  as  Foreign  Secretary  could  arrange 
better  terms  with  France  and  Spain.  The  King's 
policy  was  that  the  recognition  of  independence 
should  be  conditional  to  a  joint  treaty  with  France 
and  America ;  Britain  thereby  might  alone  hope  to 
profit  by  the  concession.  Shelburne  favoured  the 
royal  policy,  and  an  agent  named  Oswald  was  de- 
i  spatched  to  Paris  to  negotiate  with  Franklin.  This 
agent  was  criminally  ignorant  and  incompetent,  and 
as  such  he  was  no  match  for  the  "  wily  American." 

Wholly  out  of  touch  with  his  own  countrymen, 

and  inclined  to  exaggerate  the  extent  of  the  triumphs 

they  had  won,  Franklin  coolly  proposed  that  Britain 

i    should  cede  Canada  to  the  Americans.     The  negotia- 

i    tions  in  Paris  resulted  in  an  open  quarrel  between 

r    Fox  and  Shelburne,  and  on  the  last  day  of  June 

Fox,  out-voted  in  the  Cabinet  on  the  proposition 

;    that  the  independence  of  America  should  be  acknow- 

1  Parliamentary  History,  vol.  xxiii.  col.  194. 



ledged  without  a  treaty,  announced  that  he  would 

On  the  very  next  day  the  Whigs  were  thrown  i 
into  confusion  by  the  news  of  Rockingham's  death,  j 
His   Premiership  had   lasted   but   little   over    three 

Many  supposed  that  the  King  would  send  for 
either  Richmond  or  Fox.  George  requested  Shel- 
burne  to  form  a  Ministry.  Fox  was  furious.  He 
alleged  that  from  the  hour  of  Shelburne's  coming  | 
into  power  "  he  had  been  guilty  of  gross  and  sys- 
tematic duplicity.  He  had  intrigued  against  his  own 
colleagues.  He  had  endeavoured  to  prejudice  the 
King  against  them.  Under  these  circumstances," 
added  Fox,  "  he  had  made  up  his  mind  that  in  the 
event  of  Lord  Shelburne  closing  with  the  King's 
offers,  no  consideration  should  induce  him  to  serve 
under  the  leadership  of  such  a  man."  In  vain  Fox's 
personal  friends,  alarmed  at  his  threats  of  resignation, 
endeavoured  to  dissuade  him.  It  was  to  no  purpose 
that  they  pointed  out  the  "  grievous  injury  which  he 
was  about  to  inflict,  not  only  on  his  party,  but  upon 
his  country."  Upon  deaf  ears  fell  the  Duke  of 
Richmond's  and  General  Conway's  reminder  that 
the  disruption  of  the  pending  treaty  of  peace,  and 
consequently  the  renewal  of  hostilities  with  America, 
might  follow  upon  his  retirement  at  that  juncture. 
Fox's  character  stood  revealed  in  his  confession  to 
Walpole,  that  "  his  resignation  might  occasion  a  great 
deal  of  mischief." 

Two   days  after  Rockingham's  death,  Fox  in  a 
private  audience  urged  upon  the  King  the  necessity 


of  sending  for  the  Duke  of  Portland,  whose  principal 
claim  to  high  office  lay  in  his  position  as  a  great 
Whig  Peer.  Portland  was  neither  able,  eloquent, 
nor  dowered  with  business  faculties.  Under  these 
circumstances  George  was  not  to  be  blamed  for 
choosing  a  Minister  whose  qualifications  for  the  post 
appeared  to  him  to  have  a  greater  weight,  even  if 
Fox  refused  to  serve  under  him.  Shelburne  took  the 
Treasury,  Pitt  became  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer, 
and  Fox  took  once  more  to  his  congenial  pursuits  of 
gambling,  drinking,  and  licentiousness. 

Even  Fox's  nephew  and  biographer  has  some 
difficulty  in  explaining  this  conduct  of  his  hero. 
"  The  resignation  of  Mr.  Fox,"  observes  Lord 
Holland,  "  is  unquestionably  one  of  the  two  passages 
of  his  public  life  most  open  to  animadversion  and 
most  requiring  explanation." l  "  From  all  whom 
I  have  seen,"  wrote  Lord  Temple  to  his  brother, 
Thomas  Grenville,  "  my  opinion  is  that  Fox  has  un- 
done himself  with  the  public,  and  his  most  intimate 
friends  seem  of  the  same  opinion."1  "The  people," 
Temple  told  Fox  privately,  "would  not  stand  by 
him  in  his  attempt  to  quit  upon  private  grounds, 
which  from  their  nature  would  appear  to  be  a  quarrel 
for  offices,  and  not  a  public  measure." 

As  we  have  been  at  some  pains  to  be  candid 
with  the  character  of  Lord  Chatham,  we  feel 
ourselves  impelled  to  be  equally  so  with  Charles 
James  Fox.  At  this  time  Fox  was  not  yet  thirty- 
four  years  of  age.  His  figure  was  broad  and  fat,  his 

1  Memorials  of  Fox,  vol.  i.  p.  472. 

2  Buckingham  Papers,  i.  52. 



features  swarthy  and  repellent,  dominated  by  black 
and  shaggy  brows,  and  at  most  times  semi-obscured 
by  an  unshorn  stubble.  If  we  are  somewhat  puzzled 
at  the  high  opinion  which  was  entertained  of  Chatham 
by  his  contemporaries  in  spite  of  his  "fustian,"  his 
seditious  philippics,  and  his  insane  caprices,  the  high 
reputation  of  Fox  occasions  us  a  deeper  wonder. 
In  private  life  he  was  a  libertine  who  had  plunged 
into  every  kind  of  debauchery.  In  politics  he 
was  altogether  without  principles,  and  a  needy  and 
ambitious  place-hunter.  Although  brilliant  and 
vigorous  in  debate,  the  shafts  of  his  oratory  were 
always  directed  towards  the  Crown,  and  began  and 
ended  in  what  George  truly  called  "noisy  de- 

"  Charles  Fox,"  said  one  of  his  intimates,  Boothby, 
"  has  three  passions — women,  play,  and  politics.  Yet 
he  never  formed  a  creditable  connection  with  a 
woman  in  his  life ;  he  has  squandered  all  his  means 
at  the  gaming  table  ;  and,  with  the  exception  of  eleven 
months,  he  has  invariably  been  in  Opposition." 

But  the  days  of  the  Coalition  were  yet  to  come. 
Meanwhile  to  the  new  Shelburne  Ministry  fell  the 
task  of  settling  matters  with  America.  Parliament 
was  prorogued  on  9th  July.  Before  the  prorogation 
there  had  been  some  animadversion  between  Shel- 
burne and  Fox.  On  Fox's  attempt  to  dictate  a 
Minister  to  the  King  Shelburne  had  something  to 
say.  "  It  was  the  principle  of  his  master  in  politics, 
the  great  Lord  Chatham,  that  the  country  ought 
on  no  account  to  be  governed  by  an  oligarchical 
party  or  by  family  connection.  It  was  the  custom," 


he  went  on,  "among  the  Mahrattas  for  a  certain 
number  of  powerful  lords  to  elect  a  Peishwa,  whom 
they  vested  with  the  apparent  plenitude  of  power, 
while  he  was  in  fact  but  the  creature  of  an  aristo- 
cracy, and  nothing  more  than  a  royal  pageant. 
For  himself,"  Shelburne  merely  remarked,  "  he  would 
never  consent  that  the  King  of  England  should  be 
a  King  of  the  Mahrattas." 

To  postpone  Britain's  acknowledgment  of  inde- 
pendence until  a  general  peace,  so  that  France  and 
Spain,  particularly  the  latter,  could  have  a  profitable 
share  in  the  arrangement,  was  part  of  Vergennes's 
scheme.  But  the  American  commissioners  did  not 
choose  to  make  any  sacrifice  of  territory  or  privileges 
for  the  sake  of  France,  even  though  France  had 
indubitably  won  her  battles.  Without  any  con- 
sultation with  Vergennes,  they  signed  preliminaries 
for  peace  on  the  30th  November.  On  that  date 
Britain  acknowledged  the  thirteen  Colonies  to  be 
free  and  independent  States.  Years  were  to  pass 
before  the  States  were  to  make  a  coherent  nation. 
On  the  5th  December,  in  a  speech  from  the  throne, 
George  announced  the  formal  dismemberment  of 
the  Empire.  The  defeat  of  his  hopes  caused  him 
much  pain,  but  he  had  long  been  prepared  for 
such  a  defeat. 

"  In  thus,"  he  declared,  "  admitting  their  sepa- 
ration from  the  Crown  of  Great  Britain,  I  have 
sacrificed  every  consideration  of  my  own  to  the 
wishes  and  opinion  of  my  people.  I  make  it  my 
humble  and  earnest  prayer  to  Almighty  God  that 
Great  Britain  may  not  feel  the  evils  which  might 


result  from  so  great  a  dismemberment  of  the 
Empire,  and  that  America  may  be  free  from  those 
calamities  which  have  formerly  proved  in  the 
Mother  Country  how  essential  monarchy  is  to  the 
enjoyment  of  constitutional  liberty.  Religion, 
language,  interest,  affections  may,  and  I  hope 
will,  yet  prove  a  bond  of  permanent  union  between 
the  two  countries.  To  this  end,  neither  attention 
nor  disposition  on  my  part  shall  be  wanting." 

"Did  I  lower  my  voice  when  I  came  to  that 
part  of  my  speech  ? "  he  asked  Lord  Oxford  at 
the  close  of  the  ceremony. 

"The  American  war,"  said  Lord  North,  screw-   j 
ing  up  his  courage  for  a  final  effort  in  the  House   | 
of  Commons,    "  has   been   suggested   to   have   been   | 
the  war  of  the  Crown,   contrary   to  the  wishes  of 
the   people.     I    deny  it.     It   was  the   war   of  Par- 
liament.    There   was   not   a   step   taken  in  it   that 
had  not   the   sanction   of  Parliament.     It   was   the   j 
war  of  the  people ;  for  it  was  undertaken  for   the 
express  purpose  of  maintaining  the  just   rights   of 
Parliament,   or,   in   other   words,  of  the   people   of 
Great  Britain  over  the  dependencies  of  the  Empire,   j 
For  this   reason  it  was   popular   at   its   commence- 
ment,   and   eagerly   embraced    by   the    people    and 
Parliament.     Could   the   influence   of  the   Crown," 
inquired   Lord  North,    "  have  procured   such   great 
majorities  within  the  doors  of  the  House  of  Commons 
as   went   almost   to   produce    equanimity  ?      Or,    if 
the  influence  of  the   Crown   could   have   produced 
those   majorities  within   doors,    could   it   have   pro- 
duced the  almost  unanimous  approbation  bestowed 


without  doors  which  rendered  the  war  the  most 
popular  of  any  that  had  been  carried  on  for  many 
years.  Nor  did  it  ever  cease  to  be  popular  until 
a  series  of  the  most  unparalleled  disasters  and 
calamities  caused  the  people,  wearied  out  with  almost 
uninterrupted  ill- success  and  misfortune,  to  call  out 
as  loudly  for  peace  as  they  had  formerly  done  for 

All  the  foregoing  explains  and  defends  the 
Colonial  policy  of  the  period,  a  policy  which  regarded 
the  British  Parliament  as  supreme,  and  renders  the 
charge  that  the  King  was  the  prime  mover  in  the 
war  unjust  and  absurd. 

Had  not  Shelburne  said  more  than  once  that 
"  he  who  should  sign  the  independence  of  America 
would  consummate  the  ruin  of  his  country,  and 
must  be  a  traitor."  "  Rather,"  declared  Catherine 
of  Russia,  "  than  have  granted  America  her  indepen- 
dence, as  her  brother  monarch  King  George  had 
done,  she  would  have  fired  a  pistol  at  her  head  !  " 2 

"  It  cannot  be  denied,"  says  Earl  Russell,  "  that 
in  his  resistance  to  American  claims  George  III.  had 
the  full  concurrence  of  his  people.  The  national 
pride  revolted  from  any  submission  to  demands 
loudly  put  forth,  and  accompanied  with  menaces 
of  rebellion."3 

"George,"  says  Jesse,  referring  to  this  trying 
moment,  "  had  at  least  the  satisfaction  of  reflecting 
that  the  motives  which  had  influenced  his  conduct 

1  Parliamentary  Debates,  vol.  xxiii.  col.  849- 

2  Edinburgh  lleview,  xiv.  113. 

3  Russell's  Memorials  of  Fox,  i.  301. 



had  been  neither  those  of  ambition  nor  of  a  thirst 
for  empire,  but  a  firm  conviction  that  he  was 
doing  no  more  than  his  duty  in  endeavouring  to 
avert  by  all  lawful  means  in  his  power  a  catas- 
trophe which  he  believed  to  be  alike  pregnant 
with  humiliation  to  his  Crown  and  fatal  to  the 
interests  of  his  country.  How  many  persons  prob- 
ably there  are  by  whom  George  the  Third  has 
been  denounced  as  a  tyrant,  a  simpleton,  or  a 
bigot,  who,  if  they  had  been  his  contemporaries, 
instead  of  having  had  the  advantage  of  judging 
of  past  events  by  the  light  of  known  results  and 
modern  experiences,  would  have  been  found  sharers 
of  the  King's  views,  and  supporters  of  his  policy ! l 
In  Parliament  the  peace  preliminaries  were  ex- 
posed to  a  hot  fire  of  criticism  by  both  the  Fox 
and  North  factions.  The  treatment  meted  out  to 
the  loyalists  was  deplorable,  but  perchance  inevitable. 
Shelburne  spoke  and  wrote  strongly  in  their  favour ; 
but  Franklin,  whose  son  was  a  loyalist,  was  fierce 
in  his  resentment,  and  so  were  the  victorious  party 
in  America.  All  that  was  practicable  was  to  induce 
the  American  commissioners  to  agree  that  there 
should  be  no  further  confiscations  and  prosecutions, 
and  that  Congress  should  recommend  them  to  the 
mercy  of  the  several  States.  "  Nothing  short  of  a 
renewal  of  the  war  could  have  induced  the  Americans 
to  forego  their  revenge,  and  if  the  war  had  gone 
on  longer,  the  loyalists'  fate  would  have  been  no 
better."  Everywhere,  save  in  South  Carolina,  they 
met  with  disgraceful  barbarity.  Sixty  thousand  of 

1  Jesse,  ii.  404. 



them  had  left  the  country  before  the  British  evacua- 
tion of  New  York.  Thirty  thousand  settled  in  Nova 
Scotia  and  New  Brunswick,  the  latter  Colony  receiv- 
ing representative  institutions  in  1784.  Ten  thousand 
more  found  homes  in  the  valley  of  the  St.  Lawrence. 
What  under  the  circumstances  she  could  do  for  her 
unfortunate  friends,  Britain  did.  Generous  grants 
of  land  were  allotted,  some  were  given  half-pay  as 
military  officers.  Between  1783  and  1790  £3,112,455 
was  distributed  among  them,  besides  £25,785  granted 
in  pensions.1 

Such  a  man  as  Shelburne,  able  as  he  was,  could 
not  enjoy  the  full  confidence  of  his  colleagues. 
Richmond  and  Keppel  retired ;  to  no  purpose  Pitt 
tried  to  induce  Fox  to  re-enter  the  Ministry.  His 
refusal  to  serve  with  Shelburne  provoked  Pitt  into 
expressing  frankly  his  opinion  of  him,  and  from  that 
moment  Pitt  and  Fox  became  enemies.  Grafton's 
resignation  of  the  Privy  Seal  followed.  According 
to  the  Whigs,  says  a  modern  commentator,  the 
Cabinet  was  to  dictate  to  the  King  whom  he  was  to 
direct  to  form  a  Cabinet,  and  was  then  to  control 
its  own  composition.  Their  constitutional  ideas  were 
warped  by  their  desire  to  perpetuate  their  own 

Thus  was  Fox  tempted  to  an  indecent  intrigue 
with  North,  who  could  command  120  followers  in 
the  Commons.  Joined  by  90  supporters  of  Fox, 
these  votes  would  give  the  latter  a  working  majority 
over  Shelburne's  140  members.  On  14th  February 
the  country  was  shocked  to  learn  that  Fox  had 

i   Hunt,  p.  242. 



formed  an  alliance  with  his  former  enemy  on  the  basis 
of  "  mutual  good-will  and  confidence."  Remember 
that  Fox  had  denounced  Lord  North  as  "void  of 
honesty  and  honour."  He  had  threatened  him  with 
an  ignominious  death  on  the  public  scaffold.  When 
it  was  suggested,  not  so  long  since,  that  he  might 
make  terms  with  any  member  of  the  late  Ministry, 
he  declared  that  if  he  did  so  he  would  "  rest  satisfied 
to  be  called  the  most  infamous  of  mankind." 

In  commenting  upon  this  Coalition,  the  most 
infamous  in  the  history  of  British  politics,  it  is 
difficult  to  decide  which  conduct  deserves  the  most 
censure,  that  of  Fox's  or  North's.  On  the  address 
the  Shelburne  Ministry  found  its  defeat  by  a  majority 
of  sixteen.  On  the  21st  February  the  Ministers 
found  themselves  again  in  a  minority  on  a  vote  of 
censure  on  the  terms  of  peace,  and  three  days  later 
Shelburne  resigned.  From  that  day  until  2nd  April 
Britain  lacked  a  regular  constitutional  Government. 

Although  the  King  in  1782  had  parted  with 
Lord  North  more  in  sorrow  than  in  anger,  the  warm 
friendship  of  a  lifetime  now  ceased.  "  If  I  were 
asked,"  wrote  long  afterwards  one  of  George's  sons, 
afterwards  King  of  Hanover,  to  Wilson  Croker,  | 
"  which  Minister  the  King  during  my  life  gave  the 
preference  to,  I  should  say  Lord  North.  But  the 
Coalition  broke  up  that  connection,  and  he  never 
forgave  him." 

George  was  indeed  stabbed  to  the  heart  by  North's 

behaviour.     He  put  forth  every  exertion  to  foil  the 

ambitions  of  Fox.     The  two  conspirators  had  already 

agreed  that  the    Duke   of  Portland  should   be  the 



nominal  head  of  the  administration.  George  post- 
poned the  evil  moment  as  long  as  possible.  He 
offered  the  Treasury  to  Pitt  on  Shelburne's  recom- 
mendation. But  Pitt's  foresight  told  him  that  the 
moment  was  premature.  In  reply  to  his  refusal 
the  King  wrote :  "I  am  much  hurt  to  find  you  are 
determined  to  decline  at  an  hour  when  those  who 
have  any  regard  for  the  constitution,  as  established 
by  law,  ought  to  stand  forth  against  the  most  daring 
and  unprincipled  faction  that  the  annals  of  this 
kingdom  ever  produced."1 

Five  weeks  was  the  country  without  a  constitu- 
:ional  Government,  and  the  state  of  public  affairs 
ras  most  critical.  The  Mutiny  Bill  had  not  been 
passed,  the  treaty  of  peace  had  not  been  signed. 
France,  never  averse  from  profiting  by  her  neigh- 
bour's domestic  troubles,  might  recommence  hostili- 
ies  without  notice.  When  the  disbanded  militia 
jisted  upon  retaining  their  clothes,  so  helpless  was 
ie  War  Department  that  they  gave  in  to  the  demand, 
.t  Portsmouth  the  mutinous  sailors  refused  to  sail 
the  West  Indies  till  paid  their  arrears  of  wages, 
id  the  Treasury  had  no  money  to  pay  them. 
"  The  Government,"  wrote  William  Grenville  to 
>rd  Temple,  "  is  broke  up  just  when  a  Government 
most  wanted.  Our  internal  regulations — our 
>an,  our  commerce,  our  army — everything  is  at  a 
ind,  while  the  candidates  for  office  are  arranging 
teir  pretensions.  In  the  meantime  we  have  no 
toney,  and  our  troops  and  seamen  are  in  mutiny. 

1  Earl  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt,  i.,  Appendix,  p.  iii. 

2  Buckingham  Papers,  i.  1 70. 


"  2 




It  is  open  to  conjecture  that  if  the  coalition  ha 
enjoyed  any  popularity  outside  Parliament,  the  King 
would  have  been  compelled  to  surrender  far  sooner 
than  he  did.  The  public,  however,  were  with  their 
monarch.  The  treaty  of  peace  was  approved  of  by 
the  country,  as  hundreds  of  addresses  showed. 

George  made  proposals  to  Lord  Gower,  and  again 
failed.  He  sent  for  his  former  Minister,  North,  and 
entreated  him  to  break  off  his  connection  with  Fox. 
George  told  North  "  that  he  had  resolved  not  to  put 
the  Treasury  into  the  hands  of  a  faction,"  but  the 
"  grateful  Lord  North,"  as  the  King  called  him,  only 
replied  by  pressing  his  sovereign  to  send  for  the 
Duke  of  Portland. 

During  this  distressing  interval  George  confided 
many  of  his  sentiments  to  the  son  of  his  former 
Prime  Minister,  George  Grenville.  Little  as  he  had 
esteemed  the  father  in  that  role,  he  did  not  carry 
his  resentment  to  the  son.  This  was  William 
Wyndham  Grenville,  afterwards  Lord  Grenville,  then 
only  in  his  twenty -fourth  year.  On  the  16th  March 
Grenville,  whose  brother,  Lord  Temple,  was  Lord- 
Lieutenant  of  Ireland,  had  a  long  interview  with  the 
King,  who  bitterly  complained  to  him  of  the  calami- 
tous state  into  which  any  country  had  ever  been  j 
brought.  "The  kingdom,"  he  said  to  Grenville,  j 
"  was  split  into  parties,  not  as  had  been  formerly  the 
case — two  great  bodies  of  men  acting  under  different 
denominations  of  Whigs  and  Tories,  and  upon 
different  principles  of  conduct — but  into  factions, 
which  had  avowedly  no  other  view  than  that  of 
forcing  themselves  at  all  hazards  into  office.  Before 




(From  the  Portrait  by  Hoppner) 


you  took  any  step,  he  wished  you  to  be  fully 
apprised  of  the  circumstances,  which  he  would  for 
that  purpose  detail  to  me,  as  he  hoped  that  your 
letter  had  been  written  in  the  idea  of  the  Government 
falling  into  the  hands  of  persons  of  the  description 
stated  above." l 

It  was  the  conviction  of  the  King  that  Fox  and 
Lord  North  had  found  much  difficulty  in  agreeing 
between  themselves,  and  it  was  owing  to  this  difficulty 
that  the  country  had  been  left  so  long  without  a 
Government.  Yet,  he  added,  it  was  upon  him  that 
they  were  now  attempting  to  thrust  the  odium  of  the 
mischievous  delay.  His  personal  aversion  to  both 
of  them,  he  repeated,  was  great,  but  were  he  com- 
pelled to  choose  one  or  the  other  of  them  for  his 
Minister,  he  should  prefer  Lord  North.2 

When  Grenville,  a  few  days  afterwards,  was  ad- 
mitted to  a  second  interview  in  the  royal  closet,  he 
found  the  King's  manner  much  less  agitated,  and  his 
language  much  more  temperate.  At  some  length 
he  expatiated  on  the  characters  of  Fox  and  North, 
"  whom,"  says  Grenville,  "  I  think  he  described  very 
justly,  though  certainly  not  in  the  most  flattering 
colours."  Lord  North,  he  said,  was  a  man  "  com- 
posed entirely  of  negative  qualities " ;  one  who,  for 
the  sake  of  securing  present  ease,  would  risk  any 
difficulty  which  might  threaten  the  future.  Of  Fox, 
so  far  as  his  great  abilities  were  concerned,  the  King 
spoke  in  very  flattering  terms.  Yet  while  he  freely 
twarded  him  the  merit  of  genius,  of  eloquence,  and 

1  Buckingham  Papers,  i.  189- 

2  Ibid.,  pp.  189,  192. 



quickness  of  parts,  he  insisted  that  those  qualities 
were  neutralised  by  his  want  of  application,  by 
his  scanty  knowledge  of  public  business,  and  more 
especially  by  his  utter  want  of  discretion  and  judg- 

Another  interview  with  North  and  George  an- 
nounced his  surrender.  "  You  may  tell  the  Duke 
of  Portland,"  he  said,  "  that  he  may  kiss  my  hand 
to-morrow."  On  this  day  the  King  with  his 
own  hand  wrote  to  Temple :  "  Judge  of  the  un- 
easiness of  my  mind  at  having  been  thwarted  in 
every  attempt  to  keep  the  administration  of  public 
affairs  out  of  the  hands  of  the  most  unprincipled 
coalition  the  annals  of  this  or  any  other  nation 
can  equal.  I  have  withstood  it  till  not  a  single 
man  is  willing  to  come  to  my  assistance,  and  till 
the  House  of  Commons  has  taken  every  step  but 
insisting  on  this  faction  being  by  name  elected 

"  To  end  a  conflict  which  stops  every  wheel  of 
Government,  and  which  would  affect  public  credit 
if  it  continued  much  longer,  I  intend  this  night  j 
to  acquaint  that  grateful  Lord  North  that  the 
seven  Cabinet  Councillors  the  coalition  has  named 
shall  kiss  hands  to-morrow,  and  then  form  their 
arrangements,  as  the  former  negotiations  they  did 
not  condescend  to  open  to  many  of  their  intentions. 

"A  Ministry  which  I  have  avowedly  attempted 
to  avoid,  by  calling  on  every  other  description  of 
men,  cannot  be  supposed  to  have  either  my  favour 
or  confidence ;  and  as  such,  I  shall  most  certainly 

1  Buckingham  Papers,  i.  212-13. 


refuse  any  honours  they  may  ask  for.  I  trust  the 
eyes  of  the  nation  will  soon  be  opened,  as  my 
sorrow  may  prove  fatal  to  my  health  if "  I  remain 
long  in  this  thraldom.  I  trust  you  will  be  steady 
in  your  attachment  to  me,  and  ready  to  join  other 
honest  men  in  watching  the  conduct  of  this  un- 
natural combination,  and  I  hope  many  months 
will  not  elapse  before  the  Grenvilles,  the  Pitts,  and 
other  men  of  abilities  and  character  will  relieve 
me  from  a  situation  that  nothing  could  have  com- 
pelled me  to  submit  to  but  the  supposition  that 
no  other  means  remained  of  preventing  the  public 
finances  from  being  materially  affected." 1 

A  Ministry  forced  in  such  a  manner  upon  the 
King  was  even  then  doomed  to  be  of  brief  dura- 
tion. George's  demeanour  towards  Fox  and  Port- 
land was  most  gracious ;  to  North,  one  of  cold 
disdain.  The  Coalition  was  not  more  acceptable  to 
the  public  than  to  the  sovereign.  "  The  King," 
wrote  Fox  on  the  10th  April,  "  continues  to  behave 
with  every  sign  of  civility,  and  sometimes  even  with 

Many  years  afterwards  the  King  admitted  that 
Fox  had  at  last  behaved  to  him  like  a  gentleman. 
"  The  King's  conduct  towards  the  Coalition  Ministry," 
writes  Sir  Walter  Scott,  "  was  equally  candid,  open, 
and  manly.  He  used  no  arts  to  circumvent  or 
deceive  the  Councillors  whom  he  unwillingly  received 
into  his  Cabinet ;  nor  did  he,  on  the  other  hand, 
impede  their  measures  by  petty  opposition.  While 
they  were  Ministers  he  gave  them  the  full  power 

1  Buckingham  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  219- 

2  C  4QI 


of  their  situation ;  not  affecting,  at  the  same  time, 
to  conceal  that  they  were  not  those  whose  assist- 
ance he  would  voluntarily  have  chosen."1 

The  Treaty  of  Versailles  was  concluded  on  the 
3rd  September.  A  week  before  the  King  wrote 
to  Fox,  "  I  cannot  say  that  I  am  so  surprised  at 
France  not  putting  the  last  strokes  to  the  definitive 
treaty  so  soon  as  we  may  wish ;  as  our  having 
totally  disarmed,  in  addition  to  the  extreme  anxiety 
shown  for  peace  during  the  whole  period  that  has 
ensued  since  the  end  of  February  1782,  certainly 
makes  her  feel  that  she  can  have  no  reason  to 
apprehend  any  evil  from  so  slighting  a  proceeding.1 

1  Prose  Works,  iv.  338. 

2  Memorials  of  Fox,  ii.  141. 

>  2 




To  George's  cares  as  a  sovereign  were  now  added 
the  anxieties   of  a  parent.     From  his  earliest   years 
his    eldest    son,    the   Prince   of    Wales,   had  given 
promise  of  being  as  intelligent  and   amiable  as  he 
was  undeniably  handsome  in  person.     No   son  had 
ever  been  loved  more  affectionately,  or  nurtured  with 
a  greater  solicitude.     But  as  the  young  Prince  waxed 
in  years,  ere  indeed  he  had  crossed  the  border  which 
separates  youth  from  manhood,  the  constant  adula- 
tion of  which  he  was  the  object,  the  temptation  by 
|  which  he  was  surrounded,  completely  subverted  his 
y  early  moral  training,  and  from  this  onward  he  became, 
!  and    so   continued  to  the   end    of  his  life,   a   spoilt 
!  and   vulgar  voluptuary,  and  an  ungrateful  and  un- 
i  dutiful  son.     By  nature  the  Prince  was  a  man  of 
;  parts.     Throughout    his  career   there  escaped  from 
him  many  evidences  of  tact,  judgment,  and  acumen, 
which  make   us   regret    the   sickening    wastefulness 
j  and  indecent  profligacy  of  his  life. 

At  the  age  of  eighteen  the  Prince  of  Wales,  who 
had  been  born  in  1762,  attained  his  royal  majority. 
"  1  have  therefore,  in  this  view,"  wrote  the  King  to 
his  Minister,  "  formed  an  honourable  establishment, 
and  given  my  son  for  Robes  and  Privy  Purse  the 

§:act  sum  I  had.    His  stables  will  be  more  expensive 


in  point  of  saddle  horses,  I  keeping  at  that  time  but 
four — he  will  have  sixteen;  but  by  appointing  a 
Groom  of  the  Stole  instead  of  a  Master  of  the  Horse, 
a  set  of  horses  and  two  footmen  are  diminished, 
which  alone  attended  that  officer  in  the  first  establish- 
ment of  my  late  father.  As  my  son  will  live  in 
my  house,  he  cannot  have  any  occasion  for  those 
servants,  necessary  only  if  he  kept  house.  I  have 
also  wished  to  keep  his  number  of  attendants  as 
moderate  as  the  different  natures  will  admit  of  to 
the  first  establishment  of  my  late  father.  The  diffi- 
culty I  find  of  having  persons  whose  private  conduct 
I  think  may  with  safety  be  placed  about  a  young 
person  is  not  surprising,  as,  I  thank  Heaven,  my 
morals  and  course  of  life  have  but  little  resembled 
those  too  prevalent  in  the  present  age ;  and  certainly, 
of  all  objects  in  this  life,  the  one  I  have  most  at 
heart  is  to  form  my  children  that  they  may  be 
useful  examples  and  worthy  of  imitation." 

The  Prince's  undutifulness  to  his  royal  father  had 
long  before  this  manifested  itself  in  a  hundred  ways. 
There  is  only  too  much  reason  to  believe  that  his 
conduct  was  advised  and  abetted  by  his  shallow  and 
unprincipled  uncle,  the  Duke  of  Cumberland.  In 
vain  the  King  sought  to  maintain  his  influence. 
The  Prince  was  fond  of  hunting,  and  his  father  was 
assiduous  in  his  attendance  in  the  hunting  field. 
"When  we  hunt  together,"  the  King  said  to  the 
Duke  of  Gloucester,  "  neither  my  son  nor  my 
brother  speak  to  me ;  and  lately,  when  the  chase 
ended  at  a  little  village  where  there  was  but  a  single 
postchaise  to  be  hired,  my  son  and  brother  got  into 


it  and  drove  to  London,  leaving  me  to  go  home  in  a 
cart  if  I  could  find  one."1 

The  royal  dinner  hour  at  Windsor  was  three 
o'clock — the  Prince  never  appeared  till  four.  In 
London  the  dinner  hour  was  four  o'clock — the  Prince 
studiously  exposed  his  father  to  the  derisive  com- 
ments of  the  equerries  and  servants  of  the  house- 
hold by  turning  up  at  five.  He  had  only  to  know 
his  father's  wishes  in  order  to  disobey  them.  The 
Prince's  apartments  at  Buckingham  House  were 
visited  by  money-lenders,  pimps  and  jockeys,  and 
loose  women.  At  a  time  when  George  was  filled 
with  distress  at  the  threatened  dismemberment  of 
the  Empire  and  the  defection  of  Lord  North,  this 
behaviour  of  his  eldest  son  smote  him  sorely. 
"  What  would  you  have  me  do  in  my  present 
distress  ? "  he  asked  his  brother,  the  Duke  of  Glou- 
cester, who  had  marvelled  at  his  patient  submission 
to  these  unfilial  affronts.  "  If  I  did  not  bear  it,  it 
would  only  drive  my  son  into  Opposition,  which 
would  increase  my  distress." 

To  crown  all,  the  Prince  went  into  Opposition, 
becoming  one  of  Fox's  personal  friends.  At  Brooks's 
Club,  where  the  Prince  was  enrolled  a  member, 
both  joined  in  scenes  of  debauchery.  "The  Prince 
of  Wales,"  wrote  Walpole,  "  has  thrown  himself 
into  the  arms  of  Charles,  and  this  in  the  most 
indecent  and  undisguised  manner.  Fox  lodged  in 
St.  James's  Street,  and  as  soon  as  he  rose,  which 
was  very  late,  had  a  levee  of  his  followers  and  of  the 
members  of  the  Gaming  Club  at  Brooks's,  all  his 

1  Walpole's  Last  Journals,  vol.  ii.  pp.  480-1. 



disciples.  His  bristly  black  person,  and  shagged 
breast  quite  open,  and  rarely  purified  by  any  ablu- 
tions, was  wrapped  in  a  foul  linen  nightgown,  and 
his  bushy  hair  dishevelled.  In  these  cynic  weeds, 
and  with  epicurean  good-humour,  did  he  dictate 
his  politics,  and  in  this  school  did  the  heir  of  the 
Crown  attend  his  lessons  and  imbibe  them."1 

It  was  an  amiable  custom  among  the  habitues  of 
Brooks's  to  ridicule  the  King,  to  mention  his  name 
with  irreverence,  to  crack  ribald  jests  on  his  person 
and  opinions,  and  to  make  bets  on  how  soon  the 
Prince  would  come  into  his  inheritance  and  the 
Prince's  friends  receive  their  reward.  The  heir- 
apparent  at  eighteen  entered  into  a  liaison  with  the 
famous  "  Peredita  "  Robinson.2 

In  1783  "  dear  Charles,"  to  use  the  expression 
with  which  the  Prince  in  his  letters  addressed 
Fox,  was  in  power.  In  a  few  weeks  the  heir- 
apparent  would  attain  the  age  of  twenty-one,  and 
it  was  necessary  that  he  should  have  a  regular 
establishment.  Eager  to  enlist  the  Prince's  favour, 
the  Shelburne  Ministry  had  already  suggested  the 
handsome  revenue  of  £100,000  a  year.  This  was 
double  the  allowance  enjoyed  by  the  King's  father 

1  Walpole's  Last  Journals,  vol.  ii.  pp.  598-9- 

2  "  My    eldest    son,"  wrote    the  King  to    North  on  the  20th 
August  1781,  "got  last  year  in  an  improper  connection  with  an 
actress,   a  woman  of  indifferent  character,    through  the  friendly 
assistance  of  Lord  Maiden.      He  sent  her  letters  and  very  foolish 
promises,  which  undoubtedly  by  her  conduct  she  has  cancelled." 
What  the  King  justly  calls  "  the  enormous  sum  "  of  .£5000  was  paid 
by  him  to  recover  the  Prince's  letters.     Mrs.  Robinson  afterwards 
became  the  mistress  of  Fox. 



(From  the  Portrait  by  Gainsborough) 


when  Prince  of  Wales,  and  this  in  spite  of  the 
relevant  circumstance  that  Frederick  was  married, 
and  the  father  of  a  numerous  family.  Fox,  how- 
ever, thought  he  could  give  no  less,  although  the 
majority  of  his  colleagues  thought  the  sum  grossly 
extravagant.  Fox  declared  that  he  had  pledged 
his  word  to  the  Prince,  and  he  would  rather  resign 
than  break  his  promise.  The  Minister's  proposal 
was  made  in  camera.  He  does  not  seem  to  have 
thought  it  necessary  to  consult  upon  such  a  matter 
with  his  sovereign.  When  George  learned  some 
weeks  later  of  the  proposed  arrangement  (it  was 
casually  mentioned  by  the  Duke  of  Portland  in 
the  royal  closet)  he  was  deeply  offended.  It  was 
far,  he  said,  from  being  either  his  wish  or  his  policy 
to  render  his  prodigal  and  disobedient  son  so 
suddenly  and  so  entirely  independent  of  parental 
control.  In  the  next  place,  assuming  the  heir 
to  the  throne  to  have  a  fair  claim  to  the  liberal 
endowment  proposed  for  him  by  Ministers,  surely 
it  was  to  his  own  father,  and  not  to  a  party  whose 
political  opinions  were  diametrically  opposed  to 
those  of  his  father,  that  the  Prince  should  have 
been  taught  to  feel  himself  indebted.  Never, 
exclaimed  the  King  in  the  bitterness  of  his  feelings, 
could  he  forgive  an  administration  that  could 
sacrifice  the  interests  of  the  public  to  gratify  the 
wishes  of  an  "  ill-advised  young  man."  l  He  ironically 
asked  the  Duke  of  Portland  if  he  intended  setting 
up  his  son  in  opposition  to  himself.2 

1  Russell's  Memorials  of  Fox,  ii.  113. 

2  Walpole's  Last  Journals,  ii.  631. 



The  King's  mind  was  soon  made  up.  Taking 
into  consideration,  he  said,  the  heavy  expenses 
of  the  late  war  and  the  financial  embarrassment 
under  which  the  country  at  present  laboured,  he 
could  on  no  account  think  of  further  burthening 
his  subjects  with  an  annual  charge  amounting  to 
so  large  a  sum  as  £100,000.  To  him  £50,000  a 
year  appeared  quite  a  sufficient  allowance  for  his 
son,  and  that  sum  he  was  ready  to  disburse  out 
of  his  own  Civil  List. 

After  this,  if  the  Ministers  persisted  in  urging 
the  larger  sum  their  dismissal  was  a  foregone  con- 
clusion. From  this  fate  they  were  for  the  present 
saved  by  the  Prince  himself,  who  consented  to  release 
his  friends  from  their  obligation  by  accepting  the 
King's  offer  of  £12,000  a  year  from  the  Duchy  of 
Cornwall,  arid  £60,000  for  his  debts  and  present 

As  may  be  imagined,  this  episode  had  greatly 
distressed  the  King.  In  one  of  his  interviews  with 
the  Duke  of  Portland  he  had  actually  burst  into 
tears.  In  putting  his  son  on  the  same  allowance 
that  his  own  father  had  enjoyed  before  him,  and 

1  "  I  believe,"  wrote  Fox  to  Northington,  "  he  was  naturally 
very  averse  to  it,  but  Colonel  Lake  and  others  whom  he  trusts 
persuaded  him  to  it,  and  the  intention  of  doing  so  came  from 
him  to  us  spontaneously.  If  it  had  not,  I  own  I  should  have  felt 
myself  bound  to  follow  his  royal  highness's  line  upon  the  subject, 
though  I  know  that  by  so  doing  I  should  destroy  the  Ministry 
in  the  worst  possible  way,  and  subject  myself  to  the  imputation 
of  the  most  extreme  wrong-headedness.  1  shall  always,  therefore, 
consider  the  Prince's  having  yielded  a  most  fortunate  event,  and 
shall  always  feel  myself  proportionally  obliged  to  him  and  to 
those  who  advised  him/' — Russell's  Memorials  of  Fox,  ii.  117. 


thereby  saving  the  nation  £50,000  a  year,  he  realised 
that  he  had  only  widened  the  breach  between  him- 
self and  the  Prince. 

On  the  reassembling  of  Parliament  in  November 
Fox  had  in  hand  another  measure  which  would 
give  further  dire  offence  to  his  sovereign.  Its 
character  was,  in  a  word,  revolutionary.  Two  Bills, 
chiefly  drafted  by  Burke,  were  brought  in  affecting 
the  constitution  of  the  East  India  Company  and 
its  Indian  administration.  We  have  already  had 
occasion  to  observe  that  George  was  deeply  inter- 
ested in  the  affairs  of  India.  Clearly  did  he  recognise 
the  anomaly  of  the  Company's  sovereignty,  the 
abuses  which  existed  and  the  necessity  for  reform. 
Nevertheless,  as  himself  representing  the  British 
nation  which  had  conquered  and  maintained  India, 
he  could  hardly  see  with  equanimity  the  substitu- 
tion of  a  third  party  for  the  royal  authority.  When 
this  third  party,  which  sought  what  was  virtually 
regal  power,  happened  to  be  Charles  Fox  and 
"my  son's  administration,"  the  arrogant  presump- 
tion was  too  great  to  be  borne. 

Under  Fox's  India  Bill  it  was  proposed  to  appoint 
a  board  of  seven  commissioners  to  conduct  the 
government  of  India,  who  were  to  be  irremovable 
by  the  Crown.  These  seven  commissioners  were 
to  be  Fox's  adherents.  "  The  effect  of  his  Bill," 
says  Macaulay,  "  was  to  give,  not  to  the  Crown, 
but  to  him  personally,  whether  in  office  or  in 
Opposition,  an  enormous  power,  a  patronage 
sufficient  to  counterbalance  the  patronage  of  the 
Treasury  and  of  the  Admiralty,  and  to  decide  the 



elections  for  fifty  boroughs.  He  knew,  it  was  said, 
that  he  was  hateful  alike  to  the  King  and 
people,  and  he  had  devised  a  plan  which  would 
make  him  independent  of  both." 

Pitt,  Grenville,  and  Wilberforce  were  vehement 
against  the  measure.  The  first-named  prophesied  that 
if  the  Bill  passed  "  no  public  securities  whatever — no 
public  corporation — not  the  Bank  of  England — not 
even  Magna  Charta  itself — would  be  secure  from  the 
innovations  of  a  "  ravenous  coalition,"  whose  harpy 
jaws  were  gaping  to  swallow  a  patronage  amounting 
to  more  than  two  millions  of  money  sterling." 

Fox  was  charged  with  desiring  to  make  himself 
"  king  of  Bengal."  A  popular  caricature  of  the 
day  figures  him  as  "  Carlo  Khan,"  riding  in  Leaden- 
hall  Street  on  an  elephant  (Lord  North)  led  by 
Edmund  Burke.  The  reception  of  the  Bill  by  the 
public  showed  George  clearly  that  the  Ministry  did 
not  enjoy  its  confidence,  and  also  that  here  was 
opportunity  of  ending  the  days  and  deeds  of  the 
coalition.  With  Thurlow  and  Lord  Temple  he  had 
frequent  interviews.  Temple  had  instantly  resigned 
his  post  of  Lord-Lieutenant  of  Ireland  when  the 
Coalition  Ministry  was  announced,  and  showed  him- 
self eagerly  a  warm  friend  and  partisan  of  the  King. 
There  is  a  supposition  indulged  in  by  several  contem- 
porary writers  that  the  King  was  ignorant  of  the  true 
import  and  real  danger  of  Fox's  measure  until  on 
being  apprised  of  it  by  Temple.1  Such  a  notion  is 

1  Thus  we  have  this  amusing  passage  in  The  Rolliad :  — 
"  On  that  great  day,  when  Buckingham,  by  pairs, 

Ascended,  Heaven  impelled,  the  King's  back  stairs, 


absurd.     "  It  is  unreasonable,"  wrote  Temple  (after- 
wards Marquis  of  Buckingham),  "  to  assume  that  his 
Majesty  really  was  ignorant  of  the  scope  and  design 
of  the  Ministerial  proposal,  which  had  called  up  re- 
monstrance and  protests  from  all  parts  of  the  king- 
dom."    If  George  was  ignorant,  it  was  not  for  long. 
In  Thurlow's  memorandum  to  the  King,  delivered  a 
full  week  before  the  Bill  passed  by  a  majority  of  two 
to  one  in  the  House  of  Commons,  it  is  denominated 
"  a  plan  to  take  more  than  half  the  royal  power  and 
by  that  means  disable  the  King  for  the  rest  of  the 
reign."     «  As  I  abhor  tyranny  in  all  its  shapes,"  he 
declared,  when  the  Bill  came  up  to  the  Lords,  "  I 
shall  oppose  most  strenuously  this  strange  attempt 
to  destroy  the  true  balance  of  our  constitution.     I 
wish  to  see  the  Crown  great  and  respectable,  but  if 
the   present  Bill  should  pass,  it  will  no   longer   be 
worthy  of  a  man  of  honour  to  wear.     The  King,  in 
fact " — and  he  fixed  his  eyes  pointedly  on  the  Prince 
of  Wales  as  he  spoke — "  will  take  the  diadem  from 
his  own  head  and  place  it  on  the  head  of  Mr.  Fox."  l 
Camden  followed  in  a  similar  strain.     "  Were  this 
Bill  to  pass  into  law,"  he  cried,  "  we  should  see  the 
King  of  England  and  the  King  of  Bengal  contending 
for    superiority   in   the   British   Parliament."      The 
Bill  passed  its  first  reading  in  the  Lords.     If  it  was 

And  panting,  breathless,  strained  his  lungs  to  show 
From  Fox's  Bill  what  mighty  ills  would  flow  ; 
Still,  as  with  stammering  tongue  he  told  his  tale, 
Unusual  terrors  Brunswick's  heart  assail, 
Wide  starts  his  white  wig  from  the  Royal  ear, 
And  each  particular  hair  stands  still  with  fear." 

1  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt,  i.  146-7. 



to  be  prevented  from  entering  the  statute  book,  no 
time  was  to  be  lost.  Such  was  the  juncture,  such 
the  danger,  when  George  took  a  bold  step,  the  boldest 
of  all  possible  steps.  "If  it  ever  be  excusable  in 
a  King  of  England,"  comments  Lord  Chancellor 
Campbell,  "  to  cabal  against  his  Ministers,  George  III. 
may  well  be  defended  for  the  course  he  now  took ; 
for  they  had  been  forced  upon  him  by  a  factious 
intrigue,  and  public  opinion  was  decidedly  in  his 

What  happened  was  this :  Temple  whispered 
to  the  wavering  peers  what  the  King  had  told  him 
that  day,  that  whoever  voted  for  the  Bill  must  be 
considered  by  him  as  an  enemy.  The  rumour  spread 
like  flames  in  a  wood.  The  Commons  took  alarm, 
and  passed  a  resolution  declaring  "  that  to  report 
the  King's  opinion  on  any  question  pending  in 
Parliament  with  a  view  to  influencing  votes  was  a 
high  crime  and  misdemeanour."  The  Lords  laughed 
at  the  threat,  and  the  Bill  was  thrown  out  by  95 
to  70. 

At  Windsor  George  waited  impatiently  for  the 
result  of  the  division.  On  the  morning  after  it 
occurred  he  was,  according  to  custom,  at  the  early 
meet  of  the  royal  staghounds.  We  are  told  by 
one  who  was  present  that  the  King's  mind  was 
obviously  distracted,  that  when  the  hounds  drew 
off  he  continued  to  linger  behind  as  if  momentarily 
expecting  the  arrival  of  important  news.  A  horse- 
man at  full  speed  approached.  The  letter  he  bore 
was  eagerly  torn  open  by  the  King. 

1  Campbell's  Lives  of  the  Chancellors,  vol.  v.  p.  555. 


Mastering  its  contents  in  an  instant  the  King 
raised  both  arms  and  cried  fervently,  "  Thank  God, 
it  is  over,  the  House  has  thrown  out  the  Bill ! 
So,"  he  added,  "there  is  an  end  of  Mr.  Fox."1 
For  the  remainder  of  that  day  did  the  King  wait 
for  the  resignations  of  the  two  Secretaries  of  State. 
But  these  did  not  come.  Only  one  course  was 
open  :  he  sent  messengers  to  North  and  Fox  com- 
manding them  to  yield  up  their  seals  of  office,  as 
he  would  not  receive  them  personally.  At  one 
o'clock  in  the  morning  North,  who  had  already 
retired  to  his  bedchamber,  delivered  up  the  seals. 
For  the  moment  they  were  given  to  Temple. 

Ever  memorable  is  the  following  day,  the  19th 
December.  A  young  member  named  Arden  moved 
that  a  new  writ  be  issued  for  the  borough  of 
Appleby  in  the  room  of  the  Right  Honourable 
William  Pitt,  who  had  accepted  the  office  of  First 
Lord  of  the  Treasury  and  Chancellor  of  the  Ex- 
chequer. The  announcement  by  many  was  hardly 
taken  seriously.  It  was  regarded  as  a  "  boyish  freak," 
a  "  mince-pie  administration,"  which  would  end  with 
the  Christmas  holidays.  The  son  of  Chatham  was 
not  yet  twenty-five  years  of  age.  Difficulties  which 
would  have  appalled  and  taxed  the  powers  of  the 
most  hardened  political  veteran  confronted  him.  So 
hopeless  seemed  the  task  under  the  peculiar  and, 
as  many  alleged,  unconstitutional  circumstances  by 
which  he  had  attained  power,  that  it  was  doubted 
if  he  could  even  form  a  Ministry.  Temple  himself, 
who  had  mainly  instigated  the  King,  and  who  accepted 

1  Quarterly  Review,  cv.  482. 



from  his  cousin  Pitt  the  Secretaryship  of  State,  re- 
signed the  seals  three  days  afterwards.  Temple's 
reason  for  this  conduct  was  that  he  had  not  at  once 
received  a  royal  acknowledgment  of  his  services  in 
the  shape  of  a  dukedom  ;  he  felt  that  the  appointment 
of  a  new  Irish  administration,  "  unaccompanied  with 
any  mark  to  me  of  the  King's  approbation  of  my 
conduct,  as  the  strongest  disavowal  of  my  govern- 
ment in  Ireland,  and,  not  to  use  harsh  expressions,  as 
a  most  personal  offence  to  me."  Pitt  was  profoundly 
affected  at  this  conduct  in  his  friend  and  relation. 

The  new  Cabinet  comprised  Lords  Sydney  and 
Carmarthen  as  Secretaries  of  State ;  Gower,  President 
of  the  Council ;  Rutland,  Privy  Seal ;  Howe,  First 
Lord  of  the  Admiralty ;  while  Thurlow  returned 
again  as  Lord  Chancellor. 

The  reins  were  now  in  Pitt's  hands.  George  al- 
layed Fox's  alarm  by  assuring  the  House  that  he 
would  not  exercise  his  prerogative  either  by  prorogu- 
ing or  dissolving  Parliament.  After  the  holidays  the 
members  reassembled.  Pitt  lacked  a  majority ; 
he  lacked  also  the  aid  of  a  single  Cabinet  Minister 
in  the  Commons.  His  friends  urged  him  to  advise 
a  dissolution,  that  a  dissolution  would  be  a  great 
advantage.  Fox  was  on  his  legs  in  an  instant : 
he  questioned  the  right  of  the  Crown  to  dissolve 
Parliament  during  the  business  of  a  session.  "  James 
II.  had  done  so,  and  thereby  put  an  end  to  his 
reign."  To  this  Pitt  replied  that  he  "  would  not 
compromise  the  royal  prerogative  or  bargain  it 
away  in  the  House  of  Commons."  In  a  minority 
of  193  to  232  Pitt  courageously  brought  in  his 


own  Bill  for  the  reform  government  of  India.  He 
proposed  to  place  the  political  administration  of  the 
Company  under  a  board  of  control  in  England  to 
be  appointed  by  the  Crown,  while  leaving  to  the 
Company  its  commerce  and  patronage. 

A  battle  began,  one  of  many  months'  duration. 
It  was  a  battle,  to  use  Dr.  Johnson's  phrase, 
"  between  George  III.'s  sceptre  and  Mr.  Fox's 
tongue."  No  fewer  than  sixteen  times  in  the 
course  of  the  next  ten  weeks  did  the  tellers  an- 
nounce to  Pitt  a  minority.  Fox  put  forth  all  his 
strength  to  compass  Pitt's  resignation.  The  House 
at  his  dictation  actually  petitioned  the  King  to 
dismiss  the  new  Prime  Minister  from  his  Councils. 
To  no  purpose :  Pitt  was  not  ready  for  dissolution. 
"  I  own,"  wrote  George  frankly  to  Pitt,  "  I  cannot 
see  the  reason  if  the  thing  is  practicable  that  a 
dissolution  should  not  be  effected ;  if  not,  I  fear 
the  constitution  of  this  country  cannot  subsist."  At 
one  time  Pitt  began  to  fear  that  the  game  was 
up,  but  the  King  was  on  his  side,  urging  him  not 
to  give  way.  "  If  you  resign,  Mr.  Pitt,"  he  once 
said,  "  I  must  resign  too  !  " 

On  the  15th  February  George  wrote:  "Mr. 
Pitt  is  so  well  apprised  of  the  mortification  I  feel 
at  any  possibility  of  ever  again  seeing  the  heads  of 
Opposition  in  public  employments — and  more  par- 
ticularly Mr.  Fox,  whose  conduct  has  not  been 
more  marked  against  my  station  in  the  Empire 
than  against  my  person — that  he  must  attribute 
my  want  of  perspicuity,  in  my  conversation  last 
night,  to  that  foundation." 


The  crisis  told  with  severity  on  the  King's 
health.  His  customary  cheerfulness  vanished.  He 
hinted  that  were  Pitt  overthrown  and  his  enemies 
returned  there  was  no  other  course  for  him  but  to 
abandon  England  for  his  Hanoverian  dominions, 
until  recalled  by  the  voice  of  the  people.  He 
now  took  long  rides  into  the  country  accompanied 
only  by  a  single  equerry,  to  whom  he  rarely  spoke, 
appearing  to  be  lost  in  painful  reflections.  His  old 
pastimes  seemed  no  longer  to  afford  him  pleasure. 
"  The  first  five  or  six  years,"  long  afterwards  said 
General  Bude,1  "  he  knew  him  (the  King)  he 
thought  he  never  saw  such  a  temper.  He  was 
always  cheerful ;  never  for  a  moment  discomposed 
or  out  of  humour.  But  the  American  war,  in  some 
degree,  altered  his  temper,  from  his  extreme  anxiety 
and  disappointment  on  that  head.  The  coalition, 
and  having  a  Ministry  forced  on  him  which  he 
detested,  hurt  him  also." 

George  wrote  Pitt,  "  If  the  only  two  remaining 
privileges  of  the  Crown  are  infringed — that  of  nega- 
tiving Bills  which  have  passed  both  Houses  of 
Parliament,  and  that  of  naming  the  Ministers  to 
be  employed — I  cannot  but  feel,  as  far  as  regards 

1  General  Bude  was  sub-governor  to  Prince  William,  after- 
wards Duke  of  Clarence,  and  to  Prince  Edward,  afterwards  Duke  of 
Kent.  "I  do  not  quite  know,"  writes  Madame  D'Arblay,  "what 
to  say  of  Genera]  Bude,  except  that  his  person  is  tall  and  showy, 
and  his  manner  and  appearance  are  fashionable,  but  he  has  a  sneer 
in  his  smile  that  looks  sarcastic,  and  a  distance  in  his  manner  that 
seems  haughty. — Quarterly  Review,  cv.  475  ;  Diary  and  Letters,  iii. 
40.  The  General  died  in  the  Upper  Lodge,  Windsor  Castle,  30th 
October  1818,  at  the  age  of  eighty-two, 


my  person,  that  I  can  be  no  longer  of  any  utility  to 
this  country,  nor  can  with  honour  continue  in  this 

Lord  Effingham  brought  in  a  motion  that  the 
House  of  Commons  in  certain  of  their  resolutions 
had  infringed  the  spirit  of  the  constitution.  It 
obtained  a  majority  of  100  votes  to  53,  whereupon 
the  King  wrote :  "  My  present  situation  is  perhaps 
the  most  singular  that  ever  occurred,  either  in  the 
annals  of  this  or  any  other  country ;  for  the  House  of 
Lords,  by  not  less  a  majority  than  two  to  one,  have 
declared  in  my  favour,  and  my  subjects  at  large,  in 
a  much  more  considerable  proportion,  are  not  less 
decided."2  Yet  the  Commons  were  against  both 
him  and  his  Prime  Minister. 

Quickly  the  nation  rallied  to  the  support  of  its 
sovereign.  Many  who  had  long  opposed  the  Court 
now  became  amongst  its  most  eager  champions. 
The  masses  of  the  people  were  seen  plainly  to  be 
with  the  new  Ministry.  On  1st  March  Fox  had  a 
majority  of  only  twelve  in  the  House  of  Commons.  A 
week  later  the  majority  had  sunk  to  a  single  vote. 
On  the  23rd,  the  Mutiny  Bill  having  passed  and  the 
Supplies  being  voted,  Pitt  was  ready  to  dissolve. 
For  a  moment  an  unforeseen  difficulty  arose.  The 
Great  Seal  had  been  stolen  from  the  house  of  the 
Lord  Chancellor.  But  the  foolish  conspirator,  whoever 
he  was,  was  foiled  ;  a  new  seal  was  fashioned  in  a  few 
hours,  and  on  the  25th  the  dissolution  of  Parliament 
was  at  last  announced. 

1  Earl  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt,  \.,  Appendix,  p.  vi. 
a  Ibid.,  p.  vii. 

2  D  417 


"  The  King  and  Pitt,"  says  Lord  Rosebery,  "  were 
supported  on  the  tidal  wave  of  one  of  those  great 
convulsions  of  feeling  which  in  Great  Britain  relieve 
and  express  pent-up  national  sentiments  and  which 
in  other  nations  produce  revolutions.  The  country 
was  sick  of  the  '  old  lot,'  the  politicians  who  had 
fought  and  intrigued  and  jobbed  amongst  themselves, 
with  the  result  of  landing  Great  Britain  in  an  abyss 
of  disaster  and  discomfiture  such  as  she  had  never 
known  since  the  Dutch  ships  had  sailed  up  the 
Medway.  .  .  .  There  was  something  rotten  in  the 
State,  and  the  rottenness  seemed  to  begin  in  the  states- 
men. The  English  mind  moves  slowly  but  with  ex- 
ceeding sureness,  and  it  had  reached  this  point  at  the 
election  of  1784." l  "  The  King's  dismissal  of  a 
Ministry  which  commanded  a  large  majority  in  the 
House  of  Commons,"  says  Mr.  Hunt,  "  and  his 
refusal  to  dismiss  its  successor  at  the  request  of  the 
House,  needed  no  pardon ;  they  were  endorsed  by 
the  declaration  of  the  national  will,  and  he  gained  a 
hold  on  the  affection  of  his  people  such  as  he  had 
never  had  before.  His  success  must  not  make  us 
forget  the  courage  and  the  political  insight  which  he 
displayed  during  this  critical  period." 2  Again  George 
had  shown  signally  his  rare  qualities  of  statesmanship. 

"  The  risk  run  by  the  King,"  continues  Pitt's 
most  recent  biographer,  "  had  been  immense,  and 
it  is  only  fair  to  say  he  had  made  proof  of  rare  and 
signal  courage,  for  he  had  played  on  the  throw  all 
that  to  him  made  the  throw  worth  having.  The 

1  Rosebery 's  Pitt,  p.  60. 

2  Hunt,  Political  History  of  England,  p.  280. 


general  election  of  May  indeed  condoned  his  abso- 
lute action  of  December,  but  had  it  fallen  differ- 
ently he  must  have  become  as  much  a  prisoner  of 
party,  as  Louis  XVI.  on  his  return  from  Varennes." 

The  overthrow  of  the  Whigs  was  complete. 
One  hundred  and  sixty  of  the  Opposition  candidates 
("  Fox's  Martyrs,"as  a  wit  called  them)  were  defeated. 
Fox  himself,  after  an  exciting  conflict,  was  chosen  for 
Westminster,  but  as  second  member  only,  and  his 
victory  here  gave  rise  to  a  prolonged  legal  scrutiny, 
which  Gillray's  pencil  has  made  immortal.  Routed 
was  the  Whig  party,  and  for  seventeen  years  Pitt  was 
to  enjoy  the  glory  and  responsibilities  of  power. 

All  that  George  had  so  long  struggled  for  was 
now  attained.  The  power  of  the  great  families 
was  broken,  their  pride  was  humbled,  government 
by  connection  was  a  thing  of  the  past.  Nothing 
can  be  more  unjust  to  the  King,  no  misinterpreta- 
tion of  his  conduct  and  his  aspirations  more  perverse, 
than  to  attribute  to  George,  as  some  commentators 
have  attributed,  hopes  that  Pitt  would  become  his 
pliant  tool  and  the  agent  of  his  power.  Pitt,  it  is  said, 
was  too  strong  a  man,  too  independent  a  character, 
to  be  entirely  acceptable  to  the  King.  A  wood- 
man might  as  well  say  that  his  axe  was  too  sharp, 
or  a  rifleman  that  his  weapon  carried  too  far.  George 
had  always  sought  strong  men.  When  he  had 
discarded  them  it  was  not  for  their  strength,  but 
for  their  weakness.  He  had  complained  that  Bute 
had  lacked  political  firmness,  that  Rockingham  was 
ever  truckling  to  the  crowd.  He  had  chosen  North 
for  his  courage  and  independence,  he  had  shrunk 



from  Fox  because  he  was  the  slave  of  his  vices. 
Several  times  had  his  Ministers  disappointed  him  ; 
Pitt  also  might  disappoint.  The  first  few  months 
of  administration,  however,  set  George's  mind  at 
rest.  He  had  at  last  found  a  man  who  could  do 
the  country's  work.  Amiable,  fearless,  incorruptible, 
industrious  was  Pitt,  and  so  he  gave  to  Pitt  his  full 

Now  began,  therefore,  perhaps  the  happiest  and 
most  tranquil  period  in  the  whole  of  the  King's 
reign.  His  customary  cheerfulness  returned,  and 
he  found  leisure  for  social  and  literary  converse, 
and  for  those  manifold  dignified  duties  and  employ- 
ments which  win  for  a  sovereign  the  esteem  of 
and  set  an  example  to  his  people.  A  strong  and 
clear-eyed  pilot  at  the  helm,  the  ship  now  sailing 
in  smooth  waters,  might  not  the  master  snatch  a 
well-earned  hour  of  repose? 

As  far  back  as  the  summer  of  1776  George 
and  the  celebrated  Mary  Granville,  Mrs.  Delany, 
had  become  acquainted.  She  was  then  nearly 
seventy-seven  years  of  age,  but  her  wit  and  personal 
charm  made  her  one  of  the  most  entertaining  and 
most  besought  characters  of  the  day.  She  was  the 
friend  of  Swift,  Prior,  and  Gay,  of  Soame  Jenyns 
and  Horace  Walpole.  In  this  venerable  lady's 
correspondence  we  are  furnished  with  many  in- 
teresting glimpses  of  the  King's  private  life. 

In   one  of   her  letters    she    describes   a    family 

scene  at  the  Queen's  Lodge,  Windsor.     "  The  King 

carried  about  in  his  arms,  by  turns,  Princess  Sophia, 

and  the  last  Prince,    Octavius  so  called,  being  the 



eighth  son.  I  never  saw  more  lovely  children, 
nor  a  more  pleasing  sight  than  the  King's  fondness 
for  them  and  the  Queen's.  For  they  seem  to  have 
but  one  mind,  and  that  is  to  make  everything  easy 
and  happy  about  them.  The  King  brought  in  his 
arms  the  little  Prince  Octavius  to  me,  who  held  out 
his  hand  to  play  with  me,  which  on  my  taking 
the  liberty  to  kiss,  his  Majesty  made  him  kiss  my 
cheek.  We  had  a  charming  concert  of  vocal  and 
instrumental  music ;  but  no  ladies,  except  those 
I  have  named,  came  into  the  second  drawing-room, 
nor  any  of  the  gentlemen.  They  stayed  in  the  concert 
room.  The  King  and  the  rest  of  the  royal  family 
came  backwards  and  forwards,  and  I  cannot  tell 
you  how  gracious  they  all  were.  They  talked  to 
me  a  great  deal  by  turns.  When  any  favourite 
song  was  sung  the  Queen,  attended  by  her  ladies, 
went  and  stood  at  the  door  of  the  concert  room, 
and  a  chair  was  ordered  to  be  placed  at  the  door 
for  the  Duchess  of  Portland,  when  Prince  Ernest— 
about  nine  years  old — carried  a  chair  so  large  he 
could  hardly  lift  it,  and  placed  it  by  the  Duchess 
for  me  to  sit  by  her.  We  stayed  till  past  eleven  ; 
came  home  by  a  charming  moon ;  did  not  sup  till 
past  twelve,  nor  in  bed  till  two."  1 

Two  days  later  Mrs.  Delany  again  visited  Windsor. 
"The  King  and  Queen  and  the  Princesses,"  she 
writes,  "  received  us  in  the  drawing-room,  to  which 
we  went  through  the  concert  room.  Princess  Mary 
took  me  by  the  left  hand,  Princess  Sophia  and 

1  Life  and  Correspondence  of  Mrs.  Delany,  by  Lady  Llano ver, 
i.  pp.  472-3. 



the  sweet  little  Prince  Octavius  took  me  by  the 
right,  and  led  me  after  the  Duchess  of  Portland 
into  the  drawing-room.  The  King  nodded  and 
smiled  upon  my  little  conductors,  and  bid  them 
lead  me  to  the  Queen,  who  stood  in  the  middle 
of  the  room.  When  we  were  all  seated — for  the 
Queen  is  so  gracious  she  will  always  make  me  sit 
down — the  Duchess  of  Portland  sat  next  to  the 
Queen,  and  I  next  to  the  Princess  Royal.  On  the 
other  side  of  me  was  a  chair,  and  his  Majesty  did 
me  the  honour  to  sit  by  me.  He  went  backwards 
and  forwards  between  that  and  the  music  room. 
He  was  so  gracious  as  to  have  a  good  deal  of 
conversation  with  me,  particularly  about  Handel's 
music,  and  ordered  those  pieces  to  be  played  which 
he  found  I  gave  preference  to.  In  the  course  of 
the  evening  the  Queen  changed  places  with  the 
Princess  Royal,  saying  most  graciously  she  must  have 
a  little  conversation  with  Mrs.  Delany,  which  lasted 
about  half-an-hour.  She  then  got  up,  being  half- 
an-hour  after  ten,  and  said  she  was  afraid  she 
should  keep  the  Duchess  of  Portland  too  late. 
There  was  nobody  but  their  attendants,  and  Lord 
and  Lady  Courtown.  Nothing  could  be  more  easy 
and  agreeable."  1 

On  another  occasion  she  tells  her  correspondent 
"your  affectionate  heart  would  have  been  delighted 
with  this  royal  domestic  scene,  and  indeed  it  added 
dignity  to  their  high  station." 

In  the  summer  of  1785,  on  the  death  of  Mrs. 
Delany's  friend  and  companion,  the  Dowager  Duchess 

1  Letters  from  Mrs.  Delany  to  Mrs.  Frances  Hamilton,  pp.  2-4-. 

(From  the  Portrait  by  Gainsborough) 


of  Portland,  the  King  offered  her  an  annuity  of 
£300  and  a  residence  at  Windsor.  It  was  the 
King's  express  injunction,  wrote  the  Queen,  that 
Mrs.  Delany  should  bring  to  Windsor  "  only  her- 
self, her  niece,  her  clothes,  and  her  attendants." 
George  and  his  Queen  had  in  the  meantime  taken 
upon  themselves  to  provide  every  article  necessary 
either  for  her  use  or  comfort.  On  her  arrival  she 
not  only  found  the  pleased  and  benevolent  monarch 
on  the  spot  eager  to  welcome  her,  but  he  had  also 
caused  the  house  to  be  stocked  with  plate,  china, 
glass,  and  linen,  the  cellar  with  wine,  and  even 
the  cupboards  with  sweetmeats  and  pickles." 

"It  is  impossible  for  me,"  writes  Mrs.  Delany, 
"  to  do  justice  to  her  great  condescension  and  tender- 
ness, which  were  almost  equal  to  what  I  had  lost. 
She  repeated,  in  the  strongest  terms,  her  wish  and 
the  King's  that  I  should  be  as  easy  and  happy  as 
they  could  possibly  make  me ;  that  they  waived  all 
ceremony,  and  desired  to  come  to  me  like  friends. 
The  Queen  delivered  me  a  paper  from  the  King, 
which  contained  the  first  quarter  of  £300  per  annum, 
which  his  Majesty  allows  me  out  of  his  privy  purse. 
Their  Majesties  have  drank  tea  with  me  five  times, 
and  the  Princesses  three.  They  generally  stay  two 
hours  or  longer." 

Mrs.  Delany  of  course  became  a  frequent  guest  at 
the  Queen's  Lodge,  where  she  was  more  than  ever 
charmed  with  the  King  as  she  saw  more  and  more  of 
him  in  the  centre  of  his  domestic  circle.  "  I  have  been 
several  evenings,"  she  writes  on  the  9th  of  November, 
"  at  the  Queen's  lodge  with  no  other  company  but 



their  own  most  lovely  family.  They  sit  round 
large  table,  on  which  are  books,  work,  pencils  and 
paper.  The  Queen  has  the  goodness  to  make  me  sit 
down  next  to  her,  and  delights  me  with  her  conver- 
sation, which  is  informing,  elegant,  and  pleasing 
beyond  description ;  whilst  the  younger  part  of  the 
family  are  drawing  and  working,  &c. ;  the  beautiful 
babe,  Princess  Amelia,  bearing  her  part  in  the 
entertainment ;  sometimes  in  one  of  her  sisters'  laps, 
sometimes  playing  with  the  King  on  the  carpet, 
which  altogether  exhibits  such  a  delightful  scene 
as  would  require  an  Addison's  pen,  or  a  Vandyke's 
pencil,  to  do  justice  to.  In  the  next  room  is  the 
band  of  music,  which  plays  from  eight  o'clock  till 
ten.  The  King  generally  directs  them  what  pieces 
of  music  to  play,  chiefly  Handel's."  Such  was  George 
the  Third  as  he  constantly  appeared  in  the  society  of 
those  who  loved  him  and  whom  he  loved  !  "  That 
the  King,"  writes  the  venerable  Earl  of  Guilford  to 
Mrs.  Delany,  "  has  one  of  the  best  hearts  in  the 
world  I  have  known  from  his  birth,  and  I  have 
known  the  same  to  be  in  the  Queen  ever  since  I  had 
the  honour  of  conversing  with  her  out  of  a  Drawing 
Room.  You,  who  know  them  so  well,  will  believe 
that  it  is  not  as  King  and  Queen  only  that  I  love 
and  respect  them,  but  as  two  of  the  best  persons  I 
know-  in  the  world." 

On  the  20th  August  1782  death  visited  the 
King's  own  inmost  circle  for  the  first  time.  While 
his  youngest  son  Prince  Alfred  lay  dying  George 
wrote  the  following  letter  to  his  spiritual  adviser  the 
Bishop  of  Worcester :  "  There  is  no  probability, 


and,  indeed,  scarce  a  possibility,  that  my  youngest 
child  can  survive  this  day.  Knowing  you  are  ac- 
quainted with  the  tender  feelings  of  the  Queen's 
heart,  convinces  me  you  will  be  uneasy  till  apprised 
that  she  is  calling  the  only  solid  assistant  under 
affliction,  religion,  to  her  assistance.  She  feels  the 
peculiar  goodness  of  Divine  Providence  in  never 
having  before  put  her  to  so  severe  a  trial,  though 
she  has  so  numerous  a  family.  I  do  not  deny  that 
I  also  write  to  you,  my  good  lord,  as  a  balm  to  my 
mind.  As  I  have  not  you  present  to  converse  with, 
I  think  it  the  most  pleasing  occupation,  by  this 
means,  to  convey  to  you  that  I  place  my  confidence 
that  the  Almighty  will  never  fill  my  cup  of  sorrow 
fuller  than  I  can  bear.  And  when  I  reflect  on  the 
dear  cause  of  our  tribulation,  I  consider  his  change 
to  be  so  greatly  for  his  advantage,  that  I  sometimes 
think  it  unkind  to  wish  his  recovery  had  been  effected. 
And  when  I  take  this  event  in  another  point  of 
view,  and  reflect  how  much  more  miserable  it  would 
have  been  to  have  seen  him  lead  a  life  of  pain,  and 
perhaps  end  thus  at  a  more  mature  age,  I  also  confess 
that  the  goodness  of  the  Almighty  appears  strongly 
in  what  certainly  gives  me  great  concern,  but  might 
have  been  still  more  severe." 

Less  than  nine  months  later  died  little  Prince 
Octavius,  only  four  years  of  age.  "  Many  people," 
wrote  George,  who  was  much  affected  by  the  blow, 
"  would  regret  they  ever  had  so  sweet  a  child, 
since  they  were  forced  to  part  with  him.  That  is 
not  my  case ;  I  am  thankful  to  God  for  having 

1  Stanhope's  History  of  England,  vii.,  Appendix,  p.  xxxv. 



graciously  allowed  me  to  enjoy  such  a  creature  for 
four  years."  During  the  ensuing  summer  Queen 
Charlotte  gave  birth  to  her  fifteenth  child  and  the 
last,  Princess  Amelia. 

The  conduct  of  the  Prince  of  Wales  was  ever 
a  blot  on  the  King's  happiness.  The  Prince's 
extravagant  follies  had  placed  him  by  the  spring 
of  1785  £160,000  in  debt.  In  this  predicament  he 
unbosomed  himself  to  Lord  Malmesbury.  The 
King  insisted  on  an  exact  statement  of  his  debts, 
but  one  large  item  of  £25,000  the  Prince  said 
he  was  in  honour  bound  not  to  account  for.  Very 
well,  was  George's  opinion,  if  it  is  a  debt  my  son 
is  ashamed  to  explain,  it  is  one  which  I  as  a 
father  ought  not  to  defray.  On  receiving  a  letter 
from  his  son  and  Lord  Southampton,  the  Prince's 
Groom  of  the  Stole,  the  King  wrote  at  once  to 
Pitt :  "  This  morning  I  received  the  enclosed  note 
from  Lord  Southampton,  on  which  I  appointed 
him  to  be  at  St.  James's,  when  I  returned  from 
the  House  of  Peers.  He  there  delivered  to  me 
the  letter  from  the  Prince  of  Wales.  All  I  could 
collect  further  from  him  was,  that  the  idea  is  that 
I  call  for  explanations  and  retrenchments  as  a  mode 
of  declining  engaging  to  pay  the  debts ;  that 
there  are  many  sums  that  it  cannot  be  honourable 
to  explain ;  that  Lord  Southampton  has  reason  to 
believe  they  have  not  been  incurred  for  political 
purposes ;  that  he  thinks  the  going  abroad  is  now 
finally  resolved  on  ;  that  perhaps  the  champion  of 
the  Opposition  (Fox)  has  been  consulted  on  the 
letter  now  sent.  I  therefore  once  more  send  all 


that  has  passed  to  Mr.  Pitt,  and  hope  to  have  in 
the  course  of  to-morrow  from  him  what  answer 
ought  to  be  sent  to  this  extraordinary  epistle, 
which,  though  respectful  in  terms,  is  in  direct  defi- 
ance of  my  whole  correspondence.  I  suppose  Mr. 
Pitt  will  choose  to  consult  the  Chancellor."  1 

Lord  Malmesbury  in  vain  urged  matrimony 
upon  the  Prince.  It  was  the  earnest  desire  of  his 
father,  he  said,  as  well  as  his  father's  subjects,  that 
he  should  marry.  Then  and  then  only  the  King 
and  legislature  would  cheerfully  consent  to  increase 
his  income  and  liquidate  his  debts.  "  I  will  never 
marry,"  exclaimed  the  Prince  vehemently ;  "  my 
resolution  is  taken  on  that  subject.  Frederick  will 
marry,  and  the  Crown  will  descend  to  his  children ; 
I  have  settled  it  with  Frederick ;  no !  I  will  never 

Did  any  guess  the  truth  ?  At  that  moment 
the  Prince  was  deeply  in  love  with  the  handsome 
and  fascinating  Mrs.  Fitzherbert,  a  Roman  Catholic, 
who  refused  to  be  his  mistress,  and  could  not, 
owing  to  the  Royal  Marriage  Act,  become  his 
lawful  wife.  To  escape  from  his  importunities 
she  had  fled  to  the  Continent,  and  there  remained 
till  December  1785.  On  the  21st  of  that  month 
the  Prince  of  Wales  and  Mrs.  Fitzherbert  were 
married  in  the  presence  of  indisputable  witnesses 
in  the  drawing-room  of  the  lady's  house  in  Park 
Lane.  Still  preserved  at  Coutts's  Bank  are  the 
certificate  of  the  marriage,  with  the  signatures  of 
the  contracting  parties. 

1  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt,  i.,  Appendix,  p.  xlv. 



Not  for  several  months  after  the  wedding  did 
rumours  concerning  it  gain  currency.  When  the 
question  of  increasing  the  Prince's  income  arose  in 
Parliament  it  was  impossible  that  the  clandestine 
Fitzherbert  marriage  should  not  be  mooted.  The 
Prince  became  frightened.  He  realised  for  the 
first  time  the  possible  consequence  of  his  rash- 
ness. Besides  the  ruin  of  his  monetary  fortunes, 
marriage  with  a  Roman  Catholic  might  involve 
the  loss  of  a  kingdom.  He  summoned  Fox  to 
Carlton  House,  and  as  a  result  of  that  interview 
Fox  went  down  to  the  House  of  Commons  and 
solemnly  denied  the  fact  of  the  marriage.  It  was 
said  that  the  heir-apparent  had  completely  imposed 
upon  him,  and  that  on  discovering  the  imposition 
Fox  broke  off  relations  with  the  Prince  for  a 
twelvemonth.  The  Prince's  subsequent  treatment 
of  Mrs.  Fitzherbert  reflects  the  greatest  discredit 
upon  him.  After  her  abandonment  by  him,  and 
when  the  fact  of  her  marriage  had  been  ascertained, 
through  the  interest  of  the  Queen  and  the  Duke 
of  York  Mrs.  Fitzherbert  was  granted  an  annuity 
of  £6000,  and  both  the  King  and  Queen  showed 
her  great  kindness.  Charlotte,  as  she  herself  told 
Lord  Stourton,  had  always  been  her  friend,  and 
as  for  the  King,  he  could  not  have  treated  her  more 
affectionately  even  if  she  had  been  his  own  daughter. 

Once  secure  in  office  as  the  result  of  the  election 
of  1784,  Pitt  again  brought  in  his  Indian  Govern- 
ment Bill,  which  after  some  amendments  in  Com- 
mittee passed  both  Houses  without  a  division. 
The  system  thus  established  lasted  for  more  than 


seventy  years.  Less  fortunate  was  Pitt's  Reform 
Bill.  George  felt  that  the  time  was  not  yet  ripe 
for  striking  at  the  roots  of  the  existing  representa- 
tive system  ;  nevertheless  he  told  Pitt  that  he  would 
not  use  any  of  his  influence  against  the  measure, 
and  he  kept  his  promise.  "  Mr.  Pitt  must  recollect 
that  though  I  have  ever  thought  it  unfortunate 
that  he  had  early  engaged  himself  in  this  measure, 
yet  that  I  have  ever  said  that  as  he  was  clear  of 
the  propriety  of  the  measure  he  ought  to  lay  his 
thoughts  before  the  House.  That,  out  of  personal 
regard  to  him,  I  would  avoid  giving  any  opinion 
to  any  one  on  the  opening  of  the  door  to  the  Par- 
liamentary reform  except  to  him,  therefore  I  am 
certain  Mr.  Pitt  cannot  suspect  my  having  influenced 
any  one  on  the  occasion.  If  others  choose,  for 
base  ends,  to  impute  such  a  conduct  to  me,  I  must 
bear  it  as  former  false  suggestions.  Indeed,  on  a 
question  of  such  magnitude  1  should  think  very 
ill  of  any  man  who  took  part  on  either  side  with- 
out the  maturest  consideration,  and  who  would 
suffer  his  civility  to  any  one  to  make  him  vote 
contrary  to  his  own  opinion."1  As  Macaulay  has 
pointed  out,  George  refrained  from  prejudicing  others 
against  his  Minister's  projected  plan  of  repre- 
sentative reform,  but  by  the  tenor  of  his  speech 
from  the  throne,  at  the  opening  of  the  session, 
he  was  understood  expressly  to  recommend  the 
measure  to  the  consideration  of  Parliament. 

The  motion   to  bring   in  the   Bill  was  rejected 
by  248  to  174.     Although  defeated  in  this  and   in 

1  Tomline's  Life  of  Pitt,  ii.  30. 



several  other  personal  measures,  it  was  no  part  of 
Pitt's  plans  to  resign.     Nor  did  anybody  expect  it. 

It  was  in  this  same  summer  of  1785  that  the 
King  and  the  accredited  envoy  of  his  revolted 
Colonies,  the  United  States  of  America,  were  first 
brought  face  to  face.  One  of  the  most  dramatic 
moments  it  was  in  George's  career.  Recollecting 
his  position  as  sovereign  lord  of  the  exiled  American 
loyalists  now  struggling  to  build  up  an  empire  on 
the  northern  side  of  the  American  border,  con- 
sidering the  long  battle  he  had  waged  to  prevent 
the  dismemberment  of  the  Empire,  this  official 
interview  between  himself  and  one  of  the  chief 
agents  of  the  rebellion  could  not  but  be  distaste- 
ful to  him.  The  envoy  selected  by  Congress  was 
John  Adams,  one  of  the  staunchest  and  most  plain- 
spoken  of  the  American  nationalists.  His  country 
had  not  yet  achieved  a  stable  government.  Many 
thought  she  would  never  do  so.  The  thirteen 
Colonies  were  distracted,  impoverished,  torn  with 
internecine  jealousies  and  alarms.  On  7th  August 
1783  George  had  written  to  Fox :  "  As  to  the 
question  whether  I  wish  to  receive  a  Minister  from 
America,  I  certainly  can  never  express  its  being  agree- ) 
able  to  me;  and  indeed  I  should  think  it  wisest  i 
for  both  parties  to  have  only  agents  who  can  settle 
any  matters  of  commerce.  But,  so  far  I  cannot  help 
adding,  that  I  shall  ever  have  a  bad  opinion  of  any 
Englishman  who  would  accept  of  being  an  accredited 
Minister  for  that  revolted  State,  and  which  certainly 
for  years  cannot  establish  a  stable  government."1 

1  Earl  Russell's  Memorials  of  Fox,  ii.  pp.  140-1. 


Two  years  later  matters  had  become  somewhat 
lore  tranquil  and  promising.  The  King  was  not 
the  man  to  stand  in  the  way  of  establishing  good 
relations  between  Britain  and  the  new  Republic.  On 
the  1st  June  Adams  was  ushered  by  Lord  Carmarthen, 
one  of  the  Secretaries  of  State,  into  the  royal  presence 
at  St.  James's  Palace.  As  he  passed  on  to  the  closet 
he  had  to  run  the  gauntlet  of  a  crowd  of  Peers, 
Bishops,  Ministers  of  State,  and  Foreign  Am- 
bassadors, the  cynosure  of  all  eyes.  "  The  door 
was  shut,"  wrote  Adams  to  Jay  in  his  account  of  the 
day's  proceeding,  "  and  I  was  left  alone  with  his 
Majesty  and  the  Secretary  of  State.  I  made  the 
three  reverences — one  at  the  door,  another  about  half- 
way, and  a  third  before  the  presence — according  to 
the  usage  established  at  this  and  all  the  northern 
Courts  of  Europe,  and  then  addressed  myself  to  his 
Majesty  in  the  following  words  :— 

"  *  SIR, — The  United  States  of  America  have 
appointed  me  their  Minister  Plenipotentiary  to  your 
Majesty,  and  have  directed  me  to  deliver  to  your 
Majesty  this  letter  which  contains  the  evidence  of  it. 
It  is  in  obedience  to  their  express  commands  that 
I  have  the  honour  to  assure  your  Majesty  of  their 
unanimous  disposition  and  desire  to  cultivate  the 
most  friendly  and  liberal  intercourse  between  your 
Majesty's  subjects  and  their  citizens,  and  of  their 
best  wishes  for  your  Majesty's  health  and  happiness, 
and  for  that  of  your  royal  family.  The  appointment 
of  a  Minister  from  the  United  States  to  your 
Majesty's  Court  will  form  an  epoch  in  the  history 
of  England  and  of  America.  I  think  myself  more 


fortunate  than  all  my  fellow-citizens  in  having  the 
distinguished  honour  to  be  the  first  to  stand  in  your 
Majesty's  royal  presence  in  a  diplomatic  character ; 
and  I  shall  esteem  myself  the  happiest  of  men  if 
I  can  be  instrumental  in  recommending  my  country 
more  and  more  to  your  Majesty's  royal  benevolence, 
and  of  restoring  an  entire  esteem,  confidence,  and 
affection,  or,  in  better  words,  the  old  good-nature 
and  the  old  good-humour  between  people  who, 
though  separated  by  an  ocean,  and  under  different 
Governments,  have  the  same  language,  a  similar 
religion,  and  kindred  blood. 

" '  I  beg  your  Majesty's  permission  to  add  that, 
although  I  have  some  time  before  been  intrusted  by 
my  country,  it  was  never  in  my  whole  life  in  a  manner 
so  agreeable  to  myself.' 

"The  King  listened  to  every  word  I  said  with 
dignity,  but  with  apparent  emotion.  Whether  it  was 
the  nature  of  the  interview,  or  whether  it  was  my 
visible  agitation — for  I  felt  more  than  I  did  or  could 
express — that  touched  him,  I  cannot  say,  but  he 
was  much  affected,  and  answered  me  with  more 
tremor  than  I  had  spoken  with,  and  said : — 

" (  SIR, — The  circumstances  of  this  audience  are  so 
extraordinary,  the  language  you  have  now  held  is  so 
extremely  proper,  and  the  feelings  you  have  dis- 
covered so  justly  adapted  to  the  occasion,  that  I  must 
say  that  I  not  only  receive  with  pleasure  the  assur- 1 
ance  of  the  friendly  dispositions  of  the  United  States, 
but  that  I  am  very  glad  the  choice  has  fallen  upon 
you  to  be  their  Minister.  I  wish  you,  sir,  to  believe, 
and  that  it  may  be  understood  in  America,  that 


I  have  done  nothing  in  the  late  contest  but  what 
I  thought  myself  indispensably  bound  to  do,  by  the 
duty  which  I  owed  to  my  people.  I  will  be  very 
frank  with  you.  I  was  the  last  to  consent  to  the 
separation;  but  the  separation  having  been  made, 
and  having  become  inevitable,  I  have  always  said, 
as  I  say  now,  that  I  would  be  the  first  to  meet  the 
friendship  of  the  United  States  as  an  independent 
Power.  The  moment  I  see  such  sentiments  and 
language  as  yours  prevail,  and  a  disposition  to  give 
to  this  country  the  preference,  that  moment  I  shall 
say,  let  the  circumstances  of  language,  religion,  and 
blood  have  their  natural  and  full  effect.' 

"  I  dare  not  say  that  these  were  the  King's 
precise  words,  and  it  is  even  possible  that  I  may 
have  in  some  particular  mistaken  his  meaning;  for, 
although  his  pronunciation  is  as  distinct  as  I  ever 
heard,  he  hesitated  some  time  between  his  periods, 
and  between  the  members  of  the  same  period.  He 
was  indeed  much  affected,  and  I  confess  I  was  not 
less  so,  and,  therefore,  I  cannot  be  certain  that  I  was 
so  cool  and  attentive,  heard  so  clearly,  and  under- 
stood so  perfectly,  as  to  be  confident  of  all  his 
words  or  sense ;  and,  I  think,  that  all  which  he 
said  to  me  should  at  present  be  kept  secret  in 
America,  unless  his  Majesty  or  his  Secretary  of 
State,  who  alone  was  present,  should  judge  proper 
to  report  it.  This  I  do  say,  that  the  foregoing  is 
his  Majesty's  meaning  as  I  then  understood  it,  and 
his  own  words  as  nearly  as  I  can  recollect  them. 

"  The  King  then  asked  me  whether  I  came  last 
from  France,  and  upon  my  answering  in  the  affirma- 

2  E  433 


live  he  put  on  an  air  of  familiarity,  and,  smiling, 
or  rather  laughing,  said,  '  There  is  an  opinion 
among  some  people  that  you  are  not  the  most 
attached  of  all  your  countrymen  to  the  manners 
of  France.'  I  was  surprised  at  this,  because  I 
thought  it  an  indiscretion  and  a  departure  from  the 
dignity.  I  was  a  little  embarrassed,  but  determined 
not  to  deny  the  truth  on  one  hand,  nor  leave  him 
to  infer  from  it  any  attachment  to  England  on  the 
other.  I  threw  off  as  much  gravity  as  I  could, 
and  assumed  an  air  of  gaiety  and  a  tone  of  de- 
cision as  far  as  was  decent,  and  said,  '  That  opinion, 
sir,  is  not  mistaken ;  I  must  avow  to  your  Majesty, 
I  have  no  attachment  but  to  my  own  country.' 
The  King  replied,  as  quick  as  lightning,  (  An  honest 
man  will  never  have  any  other.' 

"  The  King  then  said  a  word  or  two  to  the 
Secretary  of  State,  which,  being  between  them,  I 
did  not  hear,  and  then  turned  round  and  bowed 
to  me,  as  is  customary  with  all  kings  and  princes 
when  they  give  the  signal  to  retire.  I  retreated, 
stepping  backward,  as  is  the  etiquette,  and  making 
my  last  reverence  at  the  door  of  the  chamber,  I 
went  my  way.  The  Master  of  Ceremonies  joined 
me  at  the  moment  of  my  coming  out  of  the  King's 
closet,  and  accompanied  me  through  the  apartments 
down  to  my  carriage,  several  stages  of  servants, 
gentlemen-porters  and  under-porters  roaring  out 
like  thunder  as  I  went  along,  'Mr.  Adams's 
servants,  Mr.  Adams's  carriage,  &c.'  I  have  been 
thus  minute,  as  it  may  be  useful  to  others  hereafter 
to  know. 


"  The  conversation  with  the  King,  Congress  will 
form  their  own  judgment  of.  I  may  expect  from 
it  a  residence  less  painful  than  I  once  expected, 
as  so  marked  an  attention  from  the  King  will 
silence  many  grumblers,  but  we  can  infer  nothing 
from  all  this  concerning  the  success  of  my  mission." 

Strange  the  Destiny,  strange  the  seclusion  of 
kings,  that  only  now  were  many  of  John  Adams's 
countrymen  to  learn  so  much  of  their  late  mon- 
arch's deportment  and  character  as  would  make 
the  calumnies  of  the  Declaration  of  Independence 
impossible  of  credit  and  a  laughing-stock !  As  for 
sturdy  John  Adams,  second  President  of  the  United 
States,  he  ever  treasured  the  memory  of  that  inter- 
view with  George,  "  and  always,"  we  are  told,  "  re- 
tained a  strong  attachment  to  his  person  and 

Too  late — it  was  then  too  late  ! 




ONE  afternoon  in  1784  the  inimitable  Fanny  Burney, 
Dr.  Burney's  daughter,  and  authoress  of  "  Evelina," 
was  visiting  Mrs.  Delany  at  Windsor.  The  aged 
gentlewoman  had  retired  from  her  drawing-room  to 
refresh  herself  by  a  nap,  leaving  there  her  nephew, 
Miss  Burney,  her  pretty  niece,  Miss  Port,  and  a 
little  girl.  All  were  in  the  middle  of  the  room  divert- 
ing themselves  in  holiday  frolic,  little  expecting  any 
visitors  of  distinction. 

The  door  of  the  drawing-room  was  opened, 
and  "  a  large  man  in  deep  mourning  appeared  at 
it,  entering  and  shutting  it  himself  without  speaking. 
A  ghost  could  not  have  scared  me  more,  when  I 
discovered  by  its  glitter  on  the  black  a  star  !  The 
general  disorder  that  had  prevented  his  being  seen 
except  by  myself,  who  was  always  on  the  watch, 
till  Miss  Port,  turning  round,  exclaimed,  The 
King  ! — Aunt,  the  King  ! "  Mrs.  Delany  imme- 1 
diately  made  her  appearance.  "  Every  one,"  writes ! 
Miss  Burney,  "scampered  out  of  the  way;  Miss 
Port  to  stand  next  the  door,  Mr.  Bernard  Dewes 
to  a  corner  opposite  to  it.  His  little  girl  clung 
to  me,  and  Mrs.  Delany  advanced  to  meet  his 
Majesty,  who,  after  quietly  looking  on  till  she  saw 


him,  approached  and  inquired  how  she  did  ?  He 
then  spoke  to  Mr.  Bernard,  whom  he  had  already  met 
two  or  three  times  here."  l 

This  was  Fanny  Burney's  first  meeting  with  King 
George,  of  whom  she  was  afterwards  to  present  us 
with  so  many  vivid  glimpses.  A  few  months  later 
Dr.  Burney's  daughter  was  offered  a  situation  in  the 
Queen's  household,  where  she  gained  much  intimate 
knowledge  of  the  talents  and  virtues  of  both  King 
and  Queen.  As  to  the  latter  she  says :  "I  had 
not  imagined  that,  shut  up  in  the  confined  limits  of 
a  Court,  she  could  have  acquired  any  but  the  most 
superficial  knowledge  of  the  world,  and  the  most 
partial  insight  into  character.  But  I  find  now  I  have 
only  done  justice  to  her  disposition  not  to  her  parts, 
i  which  are  truly  of  that  superior  order  that  makes 
sagacity  intuitively  supply  the  place  of  experience. 
In  the  course  of  this  month  I  spent  much  time 
alone  with  her,  and  never  once  quitted  her  presence 
without  fresh  admiration  of  her  talents." 

In  1786  George,  who  had  already  parted  with 
the  Duke  of  York  and  Prince  William  Henry,  the 
former  of  whom  was  being  educated  as  a  soldier  and 
the  latter  as  a  sailor,  entered  his  three  younger  sons, 
afterwards  the  Dukes  of  Sussex,  Cumberland,  and 
Cambridge,  as  students  in  the  University  at  Gottingen. 
In  July  he  writes  to  the  Bishop  of  Worcester :  "  My 
accounts  from  Gottingen  of  the  little  colony  I  have 
sent  there  is  very  favourable.  All  three  seem  highly 
delighted  and  pleased  with  those  that  have  the  in- 

1  Madame  d'Arblay's  Diary  and  Letters,  ii.  371. 

2  Ibid.,  Hi.  169. 



spection  of  them.     But  what  pleases  me  most  is  the 
satisfaction   they  express   at  the  course  of  theology 
they   have   begun  with  Professor   Less.      Professor 
Heyne  gives  them  lessons  in  the  classics,  and  has  an 
assistant  for  the  rougher  work.     They  learn  history,  I 
geography,  moral  philosophy,  mathematics,  and  experi-  i 
mental  philosophy,  so  that  their  time  is  fully  employed,  i 
I  think  Adolphus  at  present  seems  the  favourite  of 
all,   which   from    his  lively  manners  is  natural,  but  j 
the  good  sense  of  Augustus  will  in  the  end  prove  •! 
conspicuous."  l 

A  few  days  later,  on  the  2nd  August,  an  attempt  | 
was  made  on  the  King's  life  by  a  demented  creature  j 
named  Margaret  Nicholson.      George  was  alighting 
from  his  carriage  at  the  garden  entrance  to  St.  James's 
Palace,  when  a  respectably  dressed   woman   darted 
from  the  crowd  and  apparently  offered  the  King  a 
petition.     He  smilingly  extended  his  hand  to  receive 
it,  when  the  would-be  assassin  thrust   at  his  heart 
with  a  knife.     The  King  made  a   sudden  backward 
movement  to  avoid  the   blow,  which  was  instantly  i 
succeeded  by  another.     Neither,  however,  were  effec-  j 
tive.     The  woman  was  seized,  and  a  moment  later 
would  have  been  handled  roughly  by  the  crowd,  but 
for  the    King's   generous   interference.     "  The  poor 
creature  is  mad,"  said  George  ;  "  do  not  hurt  her,  she 
has  not  hurt  me."     With  a  countenance  slightly  pale, 
but  with  an  unshaken  nerve,  he  inclined  his  head  to 
the  crowd  and  entered  the  palace.     His  chief  concern 
was  for  the  Queen  and  his  family,  lest  they  should 
receive  an  exaggerated  account  of  the  attack  made 

1  Bentley's  Miscellany,  vol.  xxvi.  pp.  334-5. 



upon  him.  He  hurried  back  to  Windsor  and  sought 
to  allay  the  consternation  which  seized  them.  "  With 
the  gayest  good-humour,"  remarks  Miss  Burney,  "  he 
did  his  utmost  to  comfort  them,  and  then  gave  a 
relation  of  the  affair  with  a  calmness  and  unconcern 
that  had  any  one  but  himself  been  the  hero  would 
have  been  regarded  as  totally  unfeeling."  ] 

The  woman  Nicholson  was  afterwards  placed  in 
Bedlam.  Her  rash  act  had  only  the  result  of  setting 
the  seal  on  the  King's  popularity.  Addresses  of 
congratulation  on  his  escape  poured  in  from  all  parts 
of  the  kingdom.  His  levees  became  crowded  with 
Peers,  who  had  long  wavered  in  their  devotion  to 
their  sovereign  or  absented  themselves  from  age, 
infirmities,  or  remoteness  from  Court.  The  hearty 
proofs  which  he  had  received  of  his  people's  love  on 
this  occasion,  said  George,  more  than  made  amends 
for  the  danger  and  annoyance  to  which  he  had  been 

Amongst  the  various  forms  which  the  King's 
energy  took  about  this  time  was  the  study  and 
promotion  of  agriculture.  He  was  himself,  as  he 
was  fond  of  boasting,  a  practical  farmer  ("Farmer 
George"  many  of  his  subjects  affectionately  called 
him),  and  under  the  nom-de-plume  of  "Ralph 
Robinson"  he  addressed  to  Arthur  Young  some 
letters,  giving  his  views  on  practical  agriculture  and 
how  farming  could  be  made  profitable.  Besides  his 
farms  at  Windsor,  he  owned  and  worked  Keel's  farm 
in  the  parish  of  Mortlake,  and  had  turned  a  part  of 
Richmond  New  Park  into  arable  land.  "The 

1  Madame  d'Arblay's  Diary  and  Letters,  iii.  pp.  45,  46. 



ground,  like  man,"  he  observed,  "  was  never  meant 
to  be  idle ;  if  it  does  not  produce  something  useful 
it  will  be  overrun  with  weeds." *  "  The  wise  and 
benevolent  example,"  it  was  remarked  many  years 
ago,  "  set  by  the  monarch  speedily  spread  its  salutary 
influence.  The  spirit  of  rural  improvement  having 
been  engendered  and  fostered  in  the  royal  shades 
of  Windsor  made  its  way,  first  to  Woburn,  then 
to  Holkham  and  Petworth,  whence  it  gradually 
penetrated  the  most  distant  and  secluded  corners 
of  the  island.  The  owners  and  occupiers  of  land 
throughout  the  country  were  effectually  roused  from 
the  unprofitable  lethargy  in  which  they  and  their 
predecessors  had  so  long  slumbered.  They  were 
taught  to  appreciate  the  hitherto  neglected  resources 
of  their  paternal  domains,  and  the  light,  which  thus 
unexpectedly  burst  upon  them,  led  to  improvements 
more  various,  more  important,  and  more  beneficial 
to  the  public  than  any  change  which  had  taken  place 
in  this  country  during  the  lapse  of  the  ten  previous 
centuries." 2 

Numerous  indeed  were  George's  interests  apart 
from  politics.  The  efforts  of  Howard  the  phil- 
anthropist to  mitigate  the  evils  of  the  English 
prisons  were  actively  seconded  by  the  King.  He 
sent  for  Howard  to  Windsor,  and  conversed  with  him 
on  the  subject  with  knowledge  and  sympathy. 
When  it  was  proposed  to  erect  a  statue  to  the 
philanthropist  George  headed  the  subscription,  but 
said,  "  Howard  wants  no  statue  ;  his  virtues  will  live 

1  Quarterly  Review,  vol.  li.  p.  232. 

2  Ibid.,  vol.  xxxvi.  p.  429. 


when  every  statue  has  crumbled  into  dust."  Howard 
himself  refused  the  honour  his  zealous  friends  pro- 
posed to  confer  upon  him. 

Another  celebrated  person  who  owed  much  to 
George  was  the  astronomer  William  Herschel. 
"The  King,"  writes  Madame  d'Arblay,  "has  not 
a  happier  subject  than  this  man,  who  owes  wholly 
to  his  Majesty  that  he  is  not  wretched  ;  for  such  is 
his  eagerness  to  quit  all  other  pursuits  to  follow 
astronomy  solely,  that  he  was  in  danger  of  ruin  when 
his  talents  and  great  and  uncommon  genius  attracted 
the  King's  patronage."  Not  only  did  the  King 
confer  a  pension  upon  Herschel,  but  authorised  him 
to  construct  a  new  telescope,  according  to  his  own 
principles,  and  unrestricted  by  considerations  of 
expense,  which  the  King  defrayed  wholly. 

The  great  Indian  administrator,  Warren  Hastings, 
found  a  warm  friend  and  champion  in  his  sovereign, 
who  did  all  in  his  power  to  mitigate  the  strictures 
passed  upon  him  by  his  detractors. 

Amongst  the  King's  other  acquaintances  at  this 
time  we  find  him  taking  much  pleasure  in  the 
conversation  of  the  musician  Handel,  Sir  Joseph 
Banks,  Jacob  Bryant,  Sir  Joseph  Fenn,  the  editor 
of  the  Paston  Letters,  Argent,  and  Beattie.  Much 
to  her  sovereign's  regret  Mrs.  Delany  died  in  April 
1788,  nearly  eighty-nine  years  of  age. 

In  political  affairs  the  King  never  ceased  his 
close  interest,  and  was  always  ready  with  his  advice, 
criticism,  and  warning.  When  an  unfavourable 
division  took  place  in  the  House  of  Commons  we 
find  him  writing  to  Pitt :  "  I  have  delayed  acknow- 



ledging  the  receipt  of  Mr.  Pitt's  note,  informing  me 
of  the  division  in  the  House  of  Commons  this  morn- 
ing, lest  he  might  have  been  disturbed  when  it  would 
have  been  highly  inconvenient.  It  is  amazing  how, 
on  a  subject  that  could  be  reduced  into  so  small  a 
compass,  the  House  would  hear  such  long  speaking. 
The  object  of  Opposition  was  evidently  to  oblige  the 
old  and  infirm  members  to  give  up  attendance,  which 
is  reason  sufficient  for  the  friends  of  Government  to 
speak  merely  to  the  point  in  future,  and  try  to 
shorten  debates,  and  bring,  if  possible,  the  present 
bad  mode  of  mechanical  oratory  into  discredit."  * 

Although  a  temporary  reconciliation  with  the 
Prince  of  Wales  and  the  King  was  arranged  in  1787 
by  the  payment  of  his  debts  of  £193,648  and  a 
settlement  of  an  additional  £10,000  a  year  for  him, 
the  King's  domestic  felicity  was  not  destined  long 
to  be  cloudless.  In  less  than  twelve  months  his  son  j 
was  again  giving  great  offence  to  his  father,  not  only 
by  his  extravagance,  but  through  his  interference  in 
politics.  A  still  deeper  affliction  was  the  defection 
and  contamination  of  his  brother,  the  Duke  of  York, 
so  greatly  beloved  by  the  King.  "  The  Prince," 
writes  General  Grant  to  Lord  Cornwallis,  "  has 
taught  the  Duke  to  drink  in  the  most  liberal  and 
copious  way,  and  the  Duke,  in  return,  has  been  equally 
successful  in  teaching  his  brother  to  lose  his  money 
at  all  sorts  of  play — quinze,  hazard,  &c." 2  The  Duke 
of  York,  says  another  authority,  "  in  politics  talks  both 
ways,  and  I  think  will  end  in  Opposition.  His  con- 

1  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt,  vol.  i.,  Appendix,  p.  xxiii. 

2  Cornwallis  Correspondence,  i.  362. 


uct  is  as  bad  as  possible.  He  plays  very  deep,  and 
loses;  and  his  company  is  thought  mauvais  ton" 
Well  might  a  correspondent  of  Lord  Buckingham's 
write  :  "  That  the  King  and  Queen  begin  now  to 
feel  how  '  sharper  than  a  serpent's  tooth  it  is  to  have 
a  thankless  child.'  "  l 

The  misconduct  of  his  sons  could  hardly  fail  to 
prey  deeply  on  the  King's  mind.  Fortunately  his 
bodily  health  during  the  period  of  the  greatest 
political  stress  continued  excellent,  but  in  the  summer 
of  1788  the  premonitory  symptoms  of  grave  malady 
began  to  be  manifest.  On  8th  June  we  find  him 
writing  to  Hurd,  Bishop  of  Worcester,  one  of  his 
closest  friends  :  "  Having  had  rather  a  sharp  bilious 
attack,  which  by  the  goodness  of  Divine  Providence 
is  quite  removed ;  Sir  George  Baker  has  strongly 
recommended  to  me  the  going  for  a  month  to 
Cheltenham,  as  he  thinks  that  water  efficacious  on 
such  occasions,  and  that  an  absence  from  London 
will  keep  me  free  from  certain  fatigues  that  attend 
long  audiences.  I  shall  therefore  go  there  on  Satur- 
day."2 To  Cheltenham  he  went,  and  on  the  16th 
August  returned  to  Windsor,  apparently  restored. 

wo  months  later  he  was  attacked  by  spasms  in  the 
stomach.  He  came  one  night  into  the  equerries'  room, 
where  he  found  Generals  Bude  and  Goldsworthy ; 
and,  opening  his  waistcoat,  showed  them  two  large 
spots  on  his  breast.  "  Both  advised  him  to  be  care- 
ful not  to  catch  cold,  as  the  consequence  would  prob- 
ably be  a  dangerous  repelling  of  the  eruption.  The 

1  Buckingham  Papers,  i.  363. 

2  Bentley's  Miscellany,  xxvi.  337. 


A    » 



King  as  usual  rejected  this  advice,  with  some 
degree  of  ill-humour.  He  rode  in  the  Park,  came 
home  very  wet ;  the  spots  disappeared,  a  slight 
fever  first  ensued,  and  soon  after  the  mental 
derangement."  * 

According  to  the  biographer  of  Mrs.  Siddons,  the 
first  person  not  connected  with  the  royal  family  who 
suspected  any  mental  derangement  in  the  King  was 
the  celebrated  actress.  She  was  paying  a  visit  to 
Windsor  Castle  at  this  time,  and  after  one  of  her 
readings,  the  King  "without  any  apparent  motive 
placed  in  her  hands  a  sheet  of  paper — blank,  with 
the  exception  of  his  signature — an  incident  which 
struck  her  as  so  unaccountable  that  she  immediately 
carried  it  to  the  Queen,  who  gratefully  thanked  her 
for  her  discretion." 2 

The  eccentricity  of  the  King's  conduct  was  not 
lost  upon  his  physician,  Sir  George  Baker,  who 
instantly  communicated  his  apprehensions  to  the 
Prime  Minister.  Rumours  began  quickly  to  fly 
about  the  town.  A  levee  was  to  be  held  at  St. 
James's  Palace,  and  George  determined  to  appear, 
in  order,  as  he  wrote  Pitt,  "  to  stop  further  lies, 
and  any  fall  of  the  Stocks.  I  am  certainly  weak  and 
stiff,  but  no  wonder.  I  am  certain  air  and  relaxa- 
tion are  the  quickest  restoratives."3 

The  levee  was  duly  held.  The  King's  altered 
manner  was  painfully  noticeable,  and  the  Lord 
Chancellor  advised  him  to  return  instantly  to  Wind- 

1  MS.  Diary  of  Colonel  Henry  Norton  Willis. 

2  Campbell's  Life  of  Mrs.  Siddo?is,  xi.  128,  129. 

3  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt,  ii.,  Appendix,  p.  iv. 



sor  and  take  great  care  of  himself.  It  was  then  that 
from  George's  lips  escaped  these  significant  words  : 
"You  too,  then,  my  Lord  Thurlow,"  he  said, 
"  forsake  me,  and  suppose  me  ill  beyond  recovery ; 
but  whatever  you  and  Mr.  Pitt  may  think  and  feel, 
I,  that  am  born  a  gentleman,  shall  never  lay  my  head 
on  my  last  pillow  in  peace  and  quiet  so  long  as  I  re- 
member the  loss  of  my  American  Colonies"1  When 
George  laid  his  head  on  that  last  pillow  it  was  his 
fate  to  have  forgotten — all ! 

The  long  strain  on  the  King's  mind  and  bosom 
told  at  last.  He  returned  to  Windsor  in  a  high 
fever ;  his  manner  indeed  continued,  according  to 
Miss  Burney,  who  saw  him  frequently  at  the  palace, 
gracious  almost  to  kindness.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  hoarseness  of  his  voice,  the  volubility  of  his 
language,  and  the  vehemence  of  his  gestures  startled 
her.  During  a  conversation  which  lasted  nearly 
half-an-hour  the  agitation  of  his  manner,  and  the 
rapidity  of  his  utterance,  were  no  less  painful,  al- 
though in  other  respects  he  was  kind  and  gentle 
to  a  degree  that  made  it  affecting  to  listen  to  him. 
Ill  as  he  was,  all  his  care  seemed  to  have  been  to 
conceal  his  sufferings  from  and  to  allay  the  anxiety 
of  others.2 

On  Wednesday,  29th  August,  in  spite  of  the 
advice  of  his  physicians,  he  persisted  in  violent  exer- 
cise, being  nearly  five  hours  out  hunting,  and  two 

lays  later  he  was  again  five  hours  in  the  saddle. 

'iercely  he  fought  against  his  growing  weakness; 

1  Lord  Malmesbury's  Diaries,  iv.  21. 

2  Madame  d'Arblay's  Diaries  and  Letters,  iv.  273. 



he  "  wished  to  God,"  he  groaned,  "  he  might  die, 
for  he  was  going  to  be  mad."1     To  a  dear  friend, 
Lady    Effingham,    a   lady    of   the   Bedchamber,  he  | 
murmured,    "My   dear   Effy,    you   see    me    all    at 
once  an   old  man."     The  Queen  was  almost  over- 
powered by  terror.     On  the  5th  November  it  began 
to  be  whispered  vaguely  among  the  tenants  of  the 
palace  that  some  fearful  catastrophe  had  occurred  in 
the   King's  apartments.     For  some  time,  however, 
nothing   more   was   known   than   that   his   Majesty 
was  "  in   some  strange   way  worse,"  and   that  the 
Queen  also  had  suddenly  been  taken  ill.     Even  the 
Princesses,  amidst  their  tears,  maintained  the  pro- 
foundest    secrecy.      Miss     Burney    has    graphically 
described  the  awful  stillness  and  gloom  which  per- 
vaded the   palace.     For  hours  after  dark   she   was 
seated    in    her    solitary    apartment,    in    silence,    in 
ignorance   and   dread.     Twelve  o'clock  struck,   and 
she   opened   her   door  to   listen,  but   not   even  the 
distant    noise    of    a    servant    crossing    one    of    the 
passages  or  ascending  one  of  the  staircases  met  her 
ear.     "  The  Prince  of  Wales  had  come  to  the  castle, 
and  was  present  when  the  King's  malady  first  took 
a  violent  form.     His  father  caught  him  with  both 
hands  by  the  collar,  pushing  him  against  the  wall 
with  some  violence,  and  asked  him  who  would  dare 
say   to   the   King  of  England   that  he   should   not 
speak   out,  or   who  should  prevent  his  whispering. 
The  King  then  whispered." 

The  Prince  sent  for  the  Lord  Chancellor.     Thur- 
low  received  from  the  three  physicians  in  attendance 

1  Life  of  Sheridan,  ii.  26J(3rd  edition). 


the  distressing  and  alarming  report  of  the  King's 
state.  During  his  fits  of  violence  both  physicians 
and  courtiers  shrank  back  in  alarm,  not  daring  to 
venture  upon  remonstrance.  Digby,  the  Queen's 
Chamberlain,  took  a  bolder  part.  He  told  the  King 
in  a  tone  of  respectful  authority  that  he  must  go 
to  bed ;  he  took  him  by  the  arm  and  endeavoured 
to  lead  him  towards  his  apartment.  "I  will  not 
go,"  cried  the  King ;  "  who  are  you  ? "  "I  am 
Colonel  Digby,  sir,"  he  answered  ;  "  your  Majesty 
has  been  very  good  to  me  often,  and  now  I  am 
going  to  be  very  good  to  you,  for  you  must  come 
to  bed.  It  is  necessary  to  your  life."  So  entirely 
was  the  King  taken  by  surprise,  that  he  allowed 
himself  to  be  led  to  his  bedchamber  as  passively 
as  if  he  had  been  a  child.1 

Throughout  the  kingdom,  and  especially  in  the 
capital,  the  news  of  the  King's  malady  occasioned 
consternation.  Stocks  instantly  fell.  George's  sub- 
jects were  filled  with  a  sense  of  impending  calamity, 
everywhere  save  in  the  inner  cabal,  the  chief  shrine 
of  the  Opposition.  At  Brooks's  Club  Fox's  friends 
began  gleefully  to  overlook  the  promised  land.  Fox 
was  himself  at  that  moment  on  his  way  to  Italy 
with  his  mistress,  Mrs.  Armistead.  At  Bologna 
he  was  overtaken  by  a  courier  bringing  the  news  of 
the  King's  illness,  and  he  at  once  started  back  for 
London,  where  he  did  not  arrive  before  the  24th 
November.  "You  may  naturally,"  wrote  William 
Grenville,  "conceive  the  exultation,  not  wearing 
even  the  appearance  of  disguise,  which  there  is  in 

i  Madame  d'Arbla/s  Diaries,  iv.  299,  300. 



one   party  and  the  depression  of  those  who  belong 
to  the  other."1 

Already  the  Prince  of  Wales  carried  matters; 
with  a  high  hand  at  Windsor.  "  Nothing,"  says 
Miss  Burney,  "  was  done  but  by  his  orders,  and  he 
was  applied  to  in  every  difficulty.  The  Queen 
interfered  not  in  anything.  She  lived  entirely  in 
her  two  new  rooms,  and  spent  the  whole  day  in 
patient  sorrow  and  retirement  with  her  daughters."; 
He  actually  went  the  length  of  taking  possession 
of  his  father's  papers.  "  Think,"  wrote  Grenville, 
"  of  the  Prince  of  Wales  introducing  Lord  Lothian 
into  the  King's  room  when  it  was  darkened,  in 
order  that  he  might  hear  his  ravings  at  the  time 
that  they  were  at  the  worst ! " 2 

The  singular  feature  of  the  King's  malady  was 
his  perpetual  loquacity,  yet  although  speech  came 
thick  and  fast,  often  for  many  hours  at  a  time,  not 
even  in  the  midst  of  his  delirium  was  he  ever  guilty 
of  any  impropriety  of  thought  or  expression.  "  The 
highest  panegyric,"  observes  Colonel  Digby,  who 
sat  for  hours  in  his  room,  "that  could  be  formed 
of  his  character  would  not  equal  what  in  those 
moments  showed  itself;  that,  with  his  heart  and 
mind  entirely  open,  not  one  wrong  idea  appeared; 
that  all  was  benevolence,  charity,  rectitude,  love 
of  country,  and  anxiety  for  its  welfare."  3 

Sir  William  Grant  said  the  King's  insanity  was 
on  two  points  ;  one,  that  all  marriages  would  soon 
be  dissolved  by  Act  of  Parliament ;  the  other,  that 

1  Buckingham  Papers,  i.  447-8.  2  Ibid.,  ii.  12. 

3  Quarterly  Review,  vol.  cv.  p.  490. 



his  Hanoverian  dominion  was  restored,  and  that  he 
was  shortly  to  go  there. 

Amongst  the  news  of  the  day  was  the  almost 
sudden  death  of  the  Marchioness  of  Buckingham. 
George  said,  "He  was  very  sorry  for  it,  she  was 
a  very  good  woman,  though  a  Roman  Catholic." 
He  expressed  great  regret  for  the  Marquis,  saying, 
"  that  he  believed  if  she  had  lived  till  the  marriages 
were  dissolved,  he  would  have  desired  to  renew 
his.  By-the-bye,"  he  added,  "  I  do  not  think  many 
of  my  friends  would  do  so." 1 

For  several  weeks  the  King's  condition  fluctuated, 
and  likewise  the  hopes  of  his  people.  Pitt  mean- 
while remained  loyal  to  his  trust.  Although  political 
ruin  for  himself  would  be  the  outcome  of  the  King's 
death  or  permanent  derangement,  yet  he  resolved 
to  do  his  utmost  in  the  interests  of  his  royal  master 
while  any  doubt  remained.  "The  great  object  to 
be  looked  to,"  wrote  Grenville  to  his  brother 
Buckingham  on  the  9th  November,  "  seems  to  be 
the  keeping  of  the  Government  in  such  a  state  as 
that,  if  the  King's  health  should  be  restored,  he 
might  be  as  far  as  possible  enabled  to  resume  it, 
and  to  conduct  it  in  such  a  manner  as  he  might 
judge  best.  I  suppose  there  never  was  a  situation 
in  which  any  set  of  men  ever  had,  at  once,  so  many 
points  to  decide,  so  essentially  affecting  their  own 
honour,  character,  and  future  situation,  their  duty 
to  their  country  in  a  most  critical  situation,  and  their 
duty  to  their  unhappy  master,  to  whom  they  are  un- 
uestionably  bound  by  ties  of  gratitude  and  honour, 

1  Rose's  Diaries,  vol.  i,  p.  95. 

2  F  449 


independent  of  considerations  of  public  duty  to- 
wards him.  I  hope  God,  who  has  been  pleased  j 
to  afflict  us  with  this  severe  and  heavy  trial, 
will  enable  us  to  go  through  it  honestly,  con- 
scientiously, and  in  a  manner  not  dishonourable  to 
our  characters."1 

Parliament  assembled  on  the  20th  November 
with  Fox  still  absent.  Owing  to  the  state  of  the 
King's  health  an  adjournment  was  made  until  the 
4th  December.  In  the  interval  Sheridan  was  deep 
in  the  affairs  of  the  Prince  of  AVales.  Already 
between  them  they  were  planning  the  new  Govern- 
ment. Although  Loughborough  claimed  the  Chan- 
cellorship, Thurlow,  convinced  of  the  hopelessness 
of  the  King's  state,  secretly  offered  to  go  over  to 
them  on  condition  that  he  should  retain  his  office. 
The  Prince  and  Sheridan  agreed.  On  Fox's  arrival 
he  was  obliged  to  swallow  the  pill,  and,  as  he  wrote 
Sheridan,  "  a  most  bitter  pill  it  was."  Pitt  quickly 
made  up  his  mind  as  to  the  course  he  should  follow. 
The  Prince  would  be  appointed  Regent  by  Act  of 
Parliament,  with  such  limitations  as  would  secure  | 
the  King,  on  his  possible  recovery,  from  any  obstacle 
in  the  exercise  of  his  sovereign  rights. 

Of  Thurlow' s  treachery  the  Prime  Minister  was 
not  ignorant,  but  he  wisely  decided  to  take  no 
notice  of  it.  The  day  before  Parliament  met  the 
King's  physicians  were  examined  on  oath,  and  gave 
it  as  their  opinion  that  the  sovereign's  indisposition 
rendered  him  incapable  of  opening  Parliament  and 
attending  to  business.  There  was  a  probability  of  his 

1  Buckingham  Papers,  i.  442,  44,3. 


recovery,  but  it  was  impossible  to  fix  any  time 
when  it  might  be  expected.  Fox  urged  that  the 
physicians  should  be  examined  by  a  Parliamentary 
Committee.  To  this  Pitt  gave  his  assent,  because 
besides  the  physicians  already  examined  another 
now  appeared  who  was  to  play  a  famous  part  in 
the  King's  illness,  both  now  and  subsequently. 

Dr.  Francis  Willis  was  a  clergyman  of  the  Church 
of  England,  who  had  once  enjoyed  a  considerable 
living  in  the  metropolis.  Having,  however,  taken 
a  medical  degree  at  Oxford,  he  had  long  practised 
as  a  physician,  and  what  is  now  termed  an  alienist. 
During  twenty-eight  years  he  had  received  in  his 
asylum  at  Gretford,  in  Lincolnshire,  some  eight 
hundred  lunatic  patients.  In  the  King's  present 
incapacity  and  in  the  hope  of  his  recovery  all 
the  physicians  were  agreed.  His  malady  was  the 
result,  they  said,  of  over  great  anxiety  in  public  affairs 
and  too  violent  exercise,  which  had  caused  a 
fever  on  the  brain.  As  George  had  not  before 
the  attack  been  subject  to  melancholy,  and  as, 
according  to  Dr.  Willis,  nine  out  of  ten  patients 
so  afflicted  perfectly  recovered,  their  hopes  were  well 
founded.  In  the  case  of  any  other  patient,  said 
Willis,  he  should  scarcely  entertain  a  doubt ;  but 
the  King,  by  reflections  on  an  illness  of  this  kind, 
might  depress  his  spirits  and  retard  his  cure.  How 
long  before  the  King  would  be  convalescent  ?  Here 
the  doctors  looked  gloomy  enough.  Dr.  Addington, 
Sir  Lucas  Pepys,  and  Dr.  Willis  thought  that 
eighteen  months  or  two  years  was  the  longest 
known  duration  of  such  maladies.  Under  favour- 


able  circumstances  they  ended  in  six  weeks  or 
two  months.  Others  were,  however,  far  less  san- 

Believing  in  his  own  mind  that  his  dismissal  was 
only  a  matter  of  weeks,  Pitt  moved  some  days  later 
for  a  Committee  to  inquire  into  precedents.  To 
this  Fox  offered  vigorous  objection.  It  was  not  for 
the  Parliament,  he  held,  to  consider  who  should  be 
Regent.  "  There  was  a  remedy,"  he  said,  "  immedi- 
ately at  hand.  There  was  a  person  in  the  kingdom,  an 
heir-apparent,  of  full  age  and  capacity,  to  exercise  the 
royal  power.  In  his  firm  opinion,  his  Royal  High- 
ness the  Prince  of  Wales  had  as  clear  and  express 
a  right  to  assume  the  reins  of  government,  and  to 
take  upon  him  the  sovereign  authority  during  the 
continuance  of  the  King's  illness,  as  if  his  Majesty 
had  suffered  a  natural  demise." 1 

Was  it  surprising  that  Pitt  should  denounce  this 
doctrine  as  little  less  than  treason  to  the  constitution  ? 
The  heir-apparent,  he  said,  had  no  more  right  to  the 
executive  power  than  any  other  person  in  the  realm. 
In  the  case  of  the  incapacity  of  the  sovereign,  it 
belonged  to  the  two  remaining  branches  of  the 
legislature  to  make  provision  for  the  temporary 
interregnum.  Let  every  person  in  the  House,  he 
went  on,  consider  that  upon  their  future  proceedings 
depended  their  own  interests,  as  well  as  the  interests 
and  honour  of  a  sovereign  deservedly  the  idol  of  his 
people.  "  Let  not  the  House,  therefore,  rashly 
annihilate  and  annul  the  authority  of  Parliament, 
in  which  the  existence  of  the  constitution  was  so 

1  Fox's  Speeches,  vol.  iii.  p.  400. 


intimately  involved." l  Sheridan  raised  a  storm  of 
indignation  by  foolishly  threatening  the  danger  of 
provoking  the  Prince  to  assert  his  claim.  The 
Ministerial  majority  was  268  votes  to  204. 

Which  side  would  Thurlow  take  ?  In  the  House 
of  Lords,  after  the  Duke  of  York  had  spoken  on  the 
Regency  question,  Thurlow  quitted  the  Woolsack 
to  address  the  House.  "  It  was,"  he  said,  "  his  fixed 
and  unalterable  determination  to  stand  by  his  sove- 
reign, a  sovereign  who,  during  a  reign  which  had 
now  continued  for  twenty-seven  years,  had  ever 
shown  a  sacred  regard  for  the  principles  which  had 
seated  the  House  of  Brunswick  on  the  throne  of 
Great  Britain."  As  for  himself  individually,  he  con- 
tinued, his  grief  at  the  present  moment  was  naturally 
more  poignant  than  that  of  others,  on  account  of 
the  personal  kindness  and  indulgence  which  he  had 
experienced  at  the  hands  of  his  afflicted  master. 

My   debt   of    gratitude,"   he   concluded    grandilo- 
[uently — "  my   debt   of  gratitude   is   indeed  ample 

>r  the   many  favours   which  have    been  graciously 

>nferred  upon  me  by  his  Majesty.  When  I  forget 
my  sovereign,  may  my  God  forget  me ! "  Pitt, 
well  acquainted  as  he  was  with  the  facts  of  the 
Chancellor's  recent  perfidy,  was  naturally  thunder- 
struck at  such  unblushing  effrontery.  "  Oh !  the 
rascal !  "  escaped  his  lips — words  uttered  loud  enough 
to  be  overheard  by  General  Manners,  and  probably 
by  others  who  were  standing  by.  "  God  forget 
you?"  commented  Wilkes,  eyeing  him  with  that 

unous   squint  which  seemed  to  add   point   to  his 

1   Pitt's  Speeches,  vol.  i.  p.  267. 



witticisms — "  He'll  see  you  d— d  first !  "  "  Forget 
you  ?  "  murmured  Burke ;  "  why,  it's  the  best  thing 
that  can  happen  to  you  !  " 

Pitt's  plan  to  provide  for  the  royal  assent  by 
placing  the  Great  Seal  in  commission  with  authority 
to  affix  it  to  the  Regency  Bill  was  also  carried  by  a 
large  majority.  The  restriction  on  the  power  of  the 
Regent  agreed  upon  by  the  Cabinet  were  laid  before 
the  prospective  Regent.  He  was  not  to  confer  peer- 
ages except  on  the  King's  issue  of  full  age,  to  grant 
reversions  or  any  office  or  pension,  nor  to  dispose 
of  the  King's  property.  The  charge  of  the  King's 
person  and  the  management  of  the  household  were 
to  be  in  the  hands  of  the  Queen.  If,  however,  the 
King's  illness  was  prolonged  the  foregoing  restrictions 
were  to  be  open  to  revision.  The  Prince  while  pro- 
testing against  the  restrictions  promised  to  accept 
the  Regency. 

George  had  now  been  removed  from  Windsor  to 
Kew.  Each  fresh  examination  of  the  physicians 
provoked  the  most  contradictory  evidence.  Pitted 
against  one  another  were  the  two  leading  physicians. 
Willis  for  taking  a  favourable  view  was  denounced 
by  the  Prince's  party  as  a  charlatan ;  Warren  being 
pessimistic,  was  spoken  of  as  the  doctor  of  the 
Opposition.  The  whole  inquiry  makes  curiously 
interesting  reading.  Three  points  were  pressed 
against  Willis,  first,  that  he  had  permitted  the  King 
to  read,  but  having  done  so,  that  he  allowed  him  to 
read  the  tragedy  of  King  Lear,  "  the  most  improper 
in  the  English  language  to  be  put  into  his  hands  " ; 
secondly,  that  he  had  suffered  the  royal  patient  to 


use  a  razor  and  scissors  ;  and  lastly,  that  he  afforded 
him  interviews  with  the  Queen  and  some  of  the 
young  Princesses. 

Willis  defended  himself  at  length.  When  his 
Majesty  was  allowed  the  amusement  of  reading,  he 
had  himself  asked  for  King  Lear,  which  Dr.  Willis 
refused,  and  ordered  that  a  volume  of  comedies 
should  be  supplied.  George  Colman's  works  were 
accordingly  produced,  the  royal  attendants  not 
knowing,  as  indeed  was  not  surprising,  that  the 
author  of  the  Jealous  Wife  had  also  adapted  Lear 
from  Shakespeare,  which  adaptation  happened  to  be 
in  the  book  which  was  brought  to  the  King ! 
Happily  Dr.  Willis  discovered  and  removed  it  with- 
out the  royal  patient's  knowledge.  We  are  told  that 
when  George  began  to  recover  it  was  found  necessary 
to  remove  his  beard,  which  had  grown  to  a  "  frightful 
length,"  and  some  portion  of  his  hair.  So  awkward 
were  the  operations  of  the  attendants  that  the  King 
at  his  earnest  request  was  permitted  to  handle  the 
necessary  implements.  No  mischief  followed,  but 
Willis  declared  afterwards  that  he  shuddered  to 
reflect  on  what  he  had  done,  but,  he  added,  "  I  could 
not  apprehend  any  harm,  having  the  firmest  reliance 
in  his  Majesty's  sentiments  of  piety,  which,  even  in 
this  dreadful  crisis,  never  altered."  As  to  the  third 
charge,  strolling  about  the  garden  the  King's  eyes 
were  often  fixed  on  the  window  of  the  apartment 
allotted  to  his  younger  children.  To  his  pathetic 
appeals  the  physicians  yielded  and  granted  occasional 
interviews.  At  one  of  these  interviews  the  King, 
"  without  any  appearance  of  violence  or  insane  passion, 



told  the  Princess  Amelia,  then  in  her  sixth  year,  and 
an  object  of  his  peculiar  affection,  that  he  would  not 
permit  her  to  quit  the  room  unless  she  would  promise 
to  return  with  the  Queen."  Having  given  his  pledge 
that  he  would  not  detain  his  consort  more  than  a 
quarter  of  an  hour  "the  interview  took  place,  the 
time  was  faithfully  observed,  and  the  patient,  far 
from  sustaining  injury,  was  benefited  by  the  indul- 
gence." l 

The  whole  examination  lasted  a  week,  and 
during  its  progress,  strenuous,  but  futile,  efforts  were 
made  to  excite  popular  prejudice  against  the  Queen. 
Poor  Charlotte  was  represented  as  a  woman  of 
ambitious  and  intriguing  character,  desirous  for  the 
sake  of  personal  advantages  to  invade  the  rights 
and  diminish  the  honour  and  dignity  of  her  son,  the 
prospective  Regent.  Charlotte's  twenty-seven  years 
of  virtuous,  unambitious,  and  unobtrusive  life  ought 
to  have  returned  a  sufficient  answer. 

By  his  supporters  the  public  elevation  of  the  Prince 
to  the  Regency  was  received  with  undisguised  glee. 
Medals  were  actually  struck  in  commemoration. 
Whig  ladies  took  to  Regency  caps,  ribbons,  and  such 
other  party  emblems.  By  the  12th  February  the 
Regency  Bill  had  finally  passed  the  House  of 
Commons.  But  alas  !  for  the  vanity  of  human  wishes, 
on  that  very  day  symptoms  of  the  King's  approach- 
ing convalescence  were  apparent.  By  the  time  the  Bill 
had  reached  the  Committee  stage  in  the  Lords  the 
Opposition  were  flung  into  confusion  and  disappoint- 
ment by  the  announcement  of  his  virtual  recovery, 

1  Enquiry  into  the  King's  Late  Illness. 


He  received  the  Lord  Chancellor,  who  had  been 
warned  to  avoid  all  discussion  on  State  affairs.  "  No 
politics  !  "  said  George  ;  "  my  head  is  not  yet  strong 
enough  for  that  subject." 

Thuiiow  told  Pitt  that  he  never  at  any  period 
saw  the  King  more  composed,  collected,  or  dis- 
tinct, and  that  there  was  not  the  least  trace  of 
any  disorder.  "  I  understand,"  wrote  Windham, 
"that  his  Majesty  was  by  no  means  the  worse  for 
this  conversation.  Dr.  Willis,  who  attends  him,  says 
that  were  he  a  private  man,  he  should  advise  his 
following  now  his  usual  occupation  as  the  mode  of 
living  most  likely  to  restore  him.  But  God  knows  ! 
his  Majesty  will  have  a  severe  trial  when  he  is 
informed  of  all  that  has  passed  during  the  unhappy 
interval.  Every  possible  care  wrill  no  doubt  be  taken 
to  prepare  him.  You  will  hear  from  other  hands 
probably  that  the  Prince  of  Wales  has  got  complete 
possession  of  the  Duke  of  York,  and  that  they  had 
meditated  such  changes  in  the  State  and  the  Army 
as  would  have  grieved  him  exceedingly.  No  scruple 
has  been  made  of  declaring  that  a  general  sweep  of 
all  places  would  be  made  if  the  Regency  were  to 
last  only  a  day." 

On  the  23rd  George  received  his  two  eldest  sons 
in  the  Queen's  presence,  and  welcomed  them  with 
touching  affection.  George  told  Digby  that  he 
"  never  shed  tears,"  yet  at  the  very  moment  when  he 
uttered  the  words  the  tears  were  ready  to  burst  from 
his  eyes.1  On  that  same  day  he  wrote  Pitt :  "  It  is 
with  infinite  satisfaction  that  I  renew  my  correspon- 

1  Cornwallis  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  405. 



dence  with  Mr.  Pitt,  by  acquainting  him  with  my 
having  seen  the  Prince  of  Wales  and  my  second 
son.1  Care  was  taken  that  the  conversation  should 
be  general  and  cordial.  They  seemed  perfectly 
satisfied.  I  chose  the  meeting  should  be  in  the 
Queen's  apartment,  that  all  parties  might  have  that 
caution  which,  at  the  present  hour,  could  not  but 
be  judicious. 

"1  desire  Mr.  Pitt  will  confer  with  the  Lord 
Chancellor,  that  any  steps  which  may  be  necessary 
for  raising  the  annual  supplies,  or  any  measures  that 
the  interests  of  the  nation  may  require,  should  not 
be  unnecessarily  delayed,  for  I  feel  the  warmest 
gratitude  for  the  support  and  anxiety  shown  by  the 
nation  at  large  during  my  tedious  illness,  which  I 
should  ill  requite  if  I  did  not  wish  to  prevent  any 
further  delay  in  those  public  measures  which  it  may 
be  necessary  to  bring  forward  this  year ;  though  I 
must  decline  entering  into  a  pressure  of  business,  and, 
indeed  for  the  rest  of  my  life  shall  expect  others  to 
fulfil  the  duties  of  their  employments,  and  only  keep 
that  superintending  eye,  which  can  be  effected  with- 
out labour  or  fatigue. 

"  I  am  anxious  to  see  Mr.  Pitt  any  hour  that  may 
suit  him  to-morrow  morning,  as  his  constant  attach- 
ment to  my  interest  and  that  of  the  public,  which  are 

1  "  The  two  Princes  were  at  Kew  yesterday,  and  saw  the  King 
in  the  Queen's  apartment.  She  was  present  the  whole  time,  a  pre- 
caution for  which,  God  knows,  there  was  but  too  much  reason.  They 
kept  him  waiting  a  considerable  time  before  they  arrived,  and  after 
they  left  him  drove  immediately  to  Mrs.  Armistead's  in  Park  Street, 
in  hopes  of  finding  Fox  there  to  give  him  an  account  of  what  had 
passed." — Buckingham  Papers,  ii.  pp.  125-6. 



inseparable,  must  ever  place  him  in  the  most  advan- 
tageous light." 1 

The  dignity,  benevolence,  and  quiet  strength  of 
this  letter  make  it,  under  the  circumstances,  one  of 
the  most  remarkable  of  any  of  the  King's  writings. 

On  the  following  day  Pitt  waited  on  the  King. 
Returning  to  London,  he  told  Grenville  that  George 
appeared  to  be  perfectly  free  from  all  disorder,  that 
his  manner  was  unusually  composed  and  dignified, 
and  that  when  he  spoke  of  his  illness  it  was  as  a  thing 
that  had  passed,  and  which  had  left  no  other  impression 
on  his  mind  than  gratitude  to  Heaven  for  his  recovery, 
as  well  as  to  those  who  had  stood  by  him  in  his 
calamity.  While  he  spoke  of  the  kindness  he  had 
experienced  it  was  with  tears  in  his  eyes  ;  yet  even 
when  thus  affected,  added  Pitt,  there  was  not  the 
slightest  appearance  of  mental  disease.2 

Afterwards  the  King  sent  for  several  of  his  old 
friends  to  thank  them  for  the  "  affectionate  fidelity  with 
which  they  had  adhered  to  him  when  so  many  others 
had  deserted  him."  Amongst  these  was  Eldon,  the 
Solicitor- General,  and  Chief  Justice  Kenyon.  To 
the  latter  he  observed,  "  Frederick  only  voted  against 
us  once — did  he  ?  "  "  Your  Majesty,"  returned  the 
tactful  Chief  Justice,  "  must  be  aware  to  what  trials 
one  in  his  situation  is  exposed."  "  Very  true,"  said 
George  gently,  "  very  true."  3 

On  the  10th  March  the  announcement  was  made 
to  Parliament  of  the  King's  complete  restoration  to 
health,  and  both  on  that  night  and  on  St.  George's 

1  Rose's  Diaries,  vol.  i.  pp.  97,  98. 

2  Buckingham  Papers,  vol.  ii.  p.  125. 

3  Lord  Campbell's  Lives  of  the  Chancellors,  vol.  v.  p.  678. 



Day,  when  he  returned  thanks  in  the  cathedral  of  St. 
Paul's,  London  was  illuminated,  and  there  were  great 
and  sincere  public  rejoicings. 

Towards  the  close  of  June  George  left  Windsor 
to  pass  the  summer  at  Weymouth.  During  the 
journey  he  was  greeted  with  fresh  instances  of  the 
popular  devotion.  At  church  the  congregation, 
unable  to  restrain  its  enthusiasm,  burst  out  into 
"God  save  the  King"  instead  of  the  appointed 
Psalm.  "Misplaced,"  says  Miss  Burney,  "as  this 
was  in  church,  its  intent  was  so  kind,  loyal,  and 
affectionate,  that  I  believe  there  was  not  a  dry  eye 
amongst  either  singers  or  hearers." l 

To  Pitt,  George  expressed  his  gratitude  in  the 
strongest  and  most  touching  terms.  He  urged  him 
to  accept  the  Order  of  the  Garter,  an  offer  Pitt 
refused,  intimating  his  wish,  however,  that  it  should 
be  given  to  his  brother,  Lord  Chatham.  To  this 
George  replied :  "  Mr.  Pitt's  note  has  just  arrived, 
intimating  a  wish  that  I  should  confer  the  third 
vacant  Garter  on  his  brother,  Lord  Chatham.  I 
trust  he  is  too  well  convinced  of  my  sentiments  to 
doubt  that  I  shall  with  pleasure  to-morrow  give  this 
public  testimony  of  approbation,  which  will  be 
understood  as  meant  to  the  whole  family."2 

For  the  present  the  shadow  over  the  King's 
intellect  had  passed,  but  another  shadow,  deeper  and 
more  portentous,  had  loomed  up  over  the  horizon  and 
was  threatening  to  involve  his  kingdom  in  a  blinding 
and  devastating  storm. 

1  Madame  d'Arblay's  Diary,  vol.  v.  31, 

2  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt, 



[N  1789  the  long-pent  tempest  burst  with  fury 
upon  France.  On  the  British  side  of  the  Channel 
its  true  purport  was  at  the  outset  ludicrously  mis- 
understood. The  violence  of  the  mob,  the  debacle 
of  the  entire  social  structure,  was  not  at  first  ap- 
prehended. The  attack  on  the  Bastille  which 
marked  the  beginning  elicited  much  applause.  Fox 
could  write,  "  How  much  the  greatest  event  it  is 
that  ever  happened  in  the  world,  and  how  much 
the  best  I"1 

How  did  George  view  these  Revolutionary 
portents  ? 

"He  conversed,"  writes  Miss  Burney  in  April 
1790,  "  almost  wholly  with  General  Grenville  upon 
the  affairs  of  France,  and  in  a  manner  so  unaffected, 
open,  and  manly — so  highly  superior  to  all  despotic 
principles  even  while  most  condemning  the  unlicensed 
fury  of  the  Parisian  mob — that  I  wished  all  the 
nations  of  the  world  to  have  heard  him,  that  they 
might  have  known  the  real  existence  of  a  patriot 

Even   Pitt,    cool,    collected,  shrewd  as   he   was, 

1  Russell's  Memorials  of  Fox,  ii.  36 1. 

2  Madame  d'Arblay's  Memoirs,  vol.  v.  p.  100. 



could  find  terms  of  praise  for  the  new-fledged  Gallic 
monster.  The  King  of  England  appears  to  be  one 
of  the  few  who  sighted  at  least  as  much  danger  to  I 
the  people  as  to  inonarchs.  He  himself  held  the  | 
most  secure  throne  in  Europe.  In  his  diagnosis 
George's  natural  acumen  was  of  course  supple- 
mented by  a  long-acquired  distrust  of  demagogues 
and  doctrinaires.  He  had  had  during  the  thirty 
years  he  had  sat  on  the  throne  ample  opportunity 
for  studying  revolutionary  symptoms.  The  only 
way  the  disease  could  be  averted  was  by  firmness 
and  good  government,  and  good  citizenship  on  the 
part  of  the  people.  Well  did  he  surmise  that  the 
whirlwind  would  not  wholly  spend  itself  in  France, 
and  that  even  if  no  immediate  damage  were  done  in 
Britain,  the  seeds  of  discontent  and  disorder  would 
be  borne  irresistibly  into  his  kingdom  and  take  root 
in  the  minds  of  the  weak  and  discontented.  For  the 
present,  in  spite  of  many  inflammatory  speeches  and 
pamphlets,  Britain  remained  throughout  the  first 
year  of  the  French  Revolution  a  passive  spectator  of 
events.  She  herself  enjoyed  peace  and  happiness, 
while  anarchy  and  bloodshed  were  already  marking  i 
the  course  of  affairs  in  the  neighbouring  kingdom. 

In  1790,  on  the  21st  January,  a  date  full  of  omen  i 
to  kings,  Parliament  was  opened.  As  George,  going 
in  State  to  Westminster,  was  passing  the  corner  of 
Carlton  House,  a  madman  threw  a  large  stone  into 
the  coach.  He  was  immediately  apprehended  and 
taken  to  Grenville's  office,  where  he  underwent  a  four 
hours'  examination  by  the  Attorney- General.  The 
assailant  proved  to  be  one  John  Frith,  an  army 


lieutenant,  who  had  already  written  a  libel  against 
the  King  and  posted  it  in  the  courtyard  of  St. 
James's.  Frith  was  committed  to  Newgate,  but  the 
proofs  of  his  lunacy  were  so  clear  that  he  was  after- 
wards sent  to  Bedlam. 

When  George  was  informed  of  the  assassination 
of  the  King  of  Sweden,  he  made  particular  inquiries 
of  a  foreign  ambassador  conversant  with  the  facts. 
His  interlocutor  thought  it  necessary  to  caution  the 
King  on  the  danger  of  a  sovereign  exposing  his 
person  too  incautiously  in  such  times.  George  cut 
the  speaker  short.  "  Sir,  I  must  differ  from  you 
there.  If  there  be  any  man  so  desperate  to  devote 
his  own  life  to  the  chance  of  taking  away  the  life 
of  another,  no  precaution  is  sufficient  to  prevent  him 
altogether  from  making  the  attempt.  A  system  of 
constant  precaution  against  such  dangers,  they  being 
in  a  thousand  instances  to  one  wholly  imaginary, 
converts  the  life  of  a  person  so  guarded  into  a 
scene  of  perpetual  restraint,  anxiety,  and  apprehen- 
i  sion.  No,  sir,  the  best  security  that  a  man  can 
have  against  such  dangers  is  to  act  openly  and 
boldly  as  a  man.  If  an  attack  be  made  upon  him, 
his  best  chance  of  escaping  is  to  meet  it  like  a  man ; 
but  if  he  should  fall  under  it,  why,  sir,  he  will  fall 
like  a  man  ! "  l 

In  the  session  of  1790  the  usual  motion  for  the 
repeal  of  the  Test  Act  made  by  a  Dissenting  member 
was  renewed  and  gave  rise  to  a  very  simoom  of 
debate,  both  inside  and  outside  Parliament.  The 
Dissenters  certainly  went  about  the  business  in  an 

1  Huish,  p.  554. 




injudicious  way.  The  fears  of  the  orthodox  were 
violent  as  to  be  ridiculous.  George's  principles  of 
toleration  were  well  known,  but  he  declared  it  his 
opinion  that  the  attempt  of  the  Dissenters  was  ill- 
timed.  At  such  a  crisis  every  innovation  or  change 
in  the  religious  establishments  were  to  be  regarded 
with  a  jealous  eye.  Atheism  and  infidelity  were  too 
rampant  abroad  not  to  have  their  germs  eventually 
dispersed  throughout  his  own  kingdom. 

Blacker  and  fiercer  grew  the  storm  in  France. 
Louis  XVI.  and  his  beautiful  queen  became  doomed 
prisoners  in  the  Tuileries,  and  the  bosoms  of  demo- 
crats and  malcontents  everywhere  were  filled  with 
joy.  "  I  have  lived,"  cried  Fox,  "  to  see  thirty 
millions  of  people  indignantly  and  resolutely  spurning 
at  slavery,  and  demanding  liberty  with  an  irresistible 
voice ;  their  king  led  in  triumph,  and  an  arbitrary 
monarch  surrendering  himself  to  his  subjects.  After 
sharing  in  the  benefits  of  one  Revolution  I  have  been 
spared  to  be  a  witness  to  two  other  Revolutions, 
both  glorious ;  and  now  methinks  I  see  the  ardour 
for  liberty  catching  and  spreading,  and  a  general 
amendment  beginning  in  human  affairs  ;  the  dominion 
of  kings  changed  for  the  dominion  of  laws,  and  the 
dominion  of  priests  giving  way  to  the  dominion  of 
reason  and  conscience."  Various  British  associations 
were  formed,  and  the  French  people  enthusiastically 
congratulated  on  their  triumph  over  "  despotism  and 
bigotry."  Lord  Stanhope,  an  avowed  Republican, 
distinguished  himself  by  composing  an  intemperate 
address  to  the  French  National  Assembly.  Suddenly 
an  unexpected  champion  arose,  and  monarchy  found 


a  zealous  and  eloquent  defender  in  the  person  of 
Edmund  Burke.  Burke's  elaborate  attack  upon  the 
French  Revolution  gave  rise  to  several  powerful  as 
well  as  indecent  rejoinders.  But  none  of  the  replies 
to  Burke's  pamphlet  —  certainly  not  Sir  James 
Mackintosh's  Findidce  Gallicce — enjoyed  such  popu- 
larity as  Tom  Paine's  reckless  production,  The  Rights 
of  Man. 

It  was  against  the  King  in  his  character  of 
sovereign  that  the  efforts  of  revolutionary  partisans 
became  directed.  "  His  *  divine  authority  '  became 
he  subject  of  ridicule,"  we  are  told,  "  and  the  pillars 
n  which  his  throne  was  fixed  were  shaken  to  the 
foundation.  The  most  treasonable  papers  were  circu- 
lated in  the  very  precincts  of  his  palace,  and  he 
had  once  the  unpleasant  sight  before  him  of  himself 
burning  in  effigy.  A  host  of  scribblers  inundated 
the  country  with  their  seditious  pamphlets,  in  all 
of  which  his  Majesty,  in  his  abstract  relation  as 
sovereign,  was  the  chosen  object  of  their  attack." 

Revolutionary  principles  were  fast  spreading  over 
all  Europe  and  undermining  the  strongest  thrones. 
Every  seditious  scribbler  who   could  find  a  printer 
for  his   wares  began  busying   himself  with  sowing 
the   seeds   of  treason   and    rebellion.     Under  these 
circumstances    the    King    resolved    to    take    some 
i     measure  of  precaution  against  the  revolutionary  mania, 
i     and   supported    by   Pitt   and   his   colleagues   issued 

in  May  a  strong  proclamation  against  them:— 
:          "Whereas  divers  wicked  and  seditious  writings 
have    been    printed,    published,    and    industriously 
dispersed,   tending  to  excite   tumult   and   disorder, 

2  G 



by  endeavouring  to  raise  groundless  jealousies  and 
discontents  in  the  minds  of  our  faithful  and  loving 
subjects,  respecting  the  laws  and  happy  constitution 
of  government,  civil  and  religious,  established  in 
this  kingdom  ;  and  endeavouring  to  vilify  and  bring 
into  contempt  the  wise  and  wholesome  provisions 
made  at  the  time  of  the  glorious  revolution,  and 
since  strengthened  and  confirmed  by  subsequent 
laws,  for  the  preservation  and  security  of  the  rights 
and  liberties  of  our  faithful  and  loving  subjects : 
And  whereas  divers  writings  have  also  been  printed, 
published,  and  industriously  dispersed,  recommending 
the  said  wicked  and  seditious  publications  to  the 
attention  of  all  our  faithful  and  loving  subjects : 
And  whereas  we  have  also  reason  to  believe  that 
correspondences  have  been  entered  into  with  sundry 
persons  in  foreign  parts,  with  a  view  to  forward 
the  criminal  and  wicked  purposes  above  mentioned : 
And  whereas  the  wealth,  happiness,  and  prosperity 
of  this  kingdom  do,  under  Divine  Providence,  chiefly 
depend  upon  a  due  submission  to  the  laws,  a  just 
confidence  in  the  integrity  and  wisdom  of  Parliament, 
and  a  continuance  of  that  zealous  attachment  to 
the  government  and  constitution  of  the  kingdom, 
which  has  ever  prevailed  in  the  minds  of  the  people 
thereof:  And  whereas  there  is  nothing  which  we 
so  earnestly  desire  as  to  secure  the  public  peace 
and  prosperity,  and  to  preserve  to  all  our  loving 
subjects  the  full  enjoyment  of  their  rights  and 
liberties,  both  religious  and  civil :  We  therefore, 
being  resolved,  so  far  as  in  us  lies,  to  repress  the 
wicked  and  seditious  practices  aforesaid,  and  to  deter 


all  persons  from  following  so  pernicious  an  example, 
have  thought  fit,  by  the  advice  of  our  Privy  Council, 
to  issue  this  our  royal  proclamation,  solemnly  warning 
all  our  loving  subjects,  as  they  tender  their  own 
happiness,  and  that  of  their  posterity,  to  guard 
against  all  such  attempts  which  aim  at  the  subversion 
of  all  regular  government  within  this  kingdom,  and 
which  are  inconsistent  with  the  peace  and  order  of 
society :  and  earnestly  exhorting  them  at  all  times, 
and  to  the  utmost  of  their  power,  to  avoid  and 
discourage  all  proceedings  tending  to  produce  riots 
and  tumult." 

By  the  nation  at  large  this  proclamation  was 
received  with  peculiar  satisfaction.  In  a  short  time 
no  fewer  than  three  hundred  and  forty-one  addresses, 
including  almost  all  the  counties,  corporations,  cities, 
boroughs,  and  towns  in  Great  Britain,  were  pre- 
sented to  the  sovereign. 

The  Revolution  indeed  had  the  effect  of  throw- 
ing all  but  the  extreme  Whigs,  the  Radicals  of  our 
own  time,  on  the  side  of  the  King.  The  time  was 
not  one  for  factious  opposition ;  every  patriot  now 
stood  forth  to  serve,  when  the  institutions  of  the 
realm  were  so  assiduously  threatened  by  the  cohorts 
of  destruction. 

George  noted  this  softening  of  political  asperities 
with  grave  satisfaction.  The  claws  of  the  Whig 
dragon  having  been  pared,  the  temper  of  the  animal 
furnished  no  cause  for  alarm.  The  King  even  con- 
ceived that  it  would  be  good  political  strategy  to 
allow  the  Whigs  to  have  a  share  in  the  government, 
intimation  to  this  effect  was  conveyed  to  the 



Duke  of  Portland,  who  transmitted  it  to  Fox.  But 
Fox  proved  peevish  and  obstinate.  He  began  by 
telling  Malniesbury  that  "  as  a  party  man  he  thought 
it  a  good  thing  for  his  party  to  come  into  office, 
were  it  only  for  a  month ;  and  that,  under  the  par- 
ticular circumstances  of  the  country,  he  thought  it 
of  very  great  importance  that  a  strong  administration 
should  exist."  But  he  went  on  to  say  "with  a 
degree  of  harshness,  very  unlike  his  usual  manner, 
that  he  did  not  believe  that  Pitt  was  sincere,  and 
that  even  if  he  was  sincere,  he  did  not  believe  any 
coalition  could  take  place." l 

Upon  conferring  with  Sheridan,  Fox's  terms 
grew  exorbitant.  "  Fox,"  writes  Malniesbury  in 
July  1792,  "  made  Pitt's  quitting  the  Treasury  a 
sine  qua  non,  and  was  so  opinionative  and  fixed 
about  it,  that  it  was  impossible  even  to  reason 
with  him  on  the  subject."  An  effort  to  detach 
the  Duke  of  Portland  and  his  friends  from  Fox 
was  so  far  successful,  that  most  of  them  accepted 
office  under  Pitt.  With  "  his  party  broken,  his 
popularity  gone,  his  friends  deserting  him,  his  elo- 
quence useless,  his  name  held  up  to  detestation," 
Fox  was  left  alone,  and  his  party  was  shattered  to 
pieces.  "  Fox,"  said  a  lady,  quoted  by  Sir  Walter 
Scott,  "is  a  very  clever  and  highly  gifted  man, 
but  he  has  never  discovered  the  great  secret,  that 
John  Bull  is  a  Tory  by  nature ! " 

So  the  horrors  in  France  quickened  the  tide 
of  British  opinion.  French  revolutionary  principles 
were  regarded  with  daily  increasing  detestation ;  for 

1  Malmesbury's  Diaries,  ii.  p.  429- 


the  old  cry  of  "  Wilkes  and  Liberty "  was  now 
substituted  "  King  and  Constitution."  "  God  save 
the  King  "  was  so  much  the  most  popular  melody  of 
the  day,  that  even  dances  at  the  Opera  were 
set  to  it,  and  the  London  populace  bared  when- 
ever their  ears  caught  the  loyal  strains.  From  this 
moment  Fox's  defection  from  decency  and  decorum 
grew  monstrous  indeed.  The  Prince  of  Wales  had 
some  time  before  deserted  him.  At  a  moment 
when  Britain  was  face  to  face  with  the  most  terrible 
enemy  mankind  has  ever  seen,  at  the  beginning  of 
a  conflict  the  most  deadly,  the  most  protracted, 
and  the  costliest  in  which  she  was  ever  involved, 
the  former  leader  of  a  great  political  party  openly 
boasted  that  he  was  a  Jacobin  and  an  admirer  of 
Robespierre  and  Marat.  On  one  occasion,  accord- 
ing to  Lord  Sheffield,  "  Charles  told  us  distinctly 
that  the  sovereignty  was  absolutely  in  the  people ; 
that  the  monarchy  was  elective — otherwise  the 
dynasty  of  Brunswick  had  no  right — and  that 
when  a  majority  of  the  people  thought  another 
kind  of  government  preferable,  they  undoubtedly 
had  a  right  to  cashier  the  King."  A  favourite 
toast  of  his  was  "  The  Majesty  of  the  people." 

George  studiously  avoided  any  exhibition  of 
anger  or  violent  reproach  during  all  the  events  of 
the  next  few  years.  It  was  not  until  1798  that 
Fox's  continued  extravagances  induced  him  to  strike 
out  his  name  with  his  own  hand  from  the  list 
of  the  Privy  Council.  When  Priestley  had  been 
mobbed  by  the  Birmingham  loyalists  in  1791  he 
wrote  to  Secretary  Dundas  :  "  The  sending  an  order 



for  three  troops  of  the  15th  Regiment  of  Dragoons 
to  march  towards  Birmingham  to  restore  order,  if 
the  civil  magistrates  have  not  been  able,  is  incum- 
bent on  Government.  Though  I  cannot  but  feel 
better  pleased  that  Priestley  is  the  sufferer  for  the 
doctrines  he  and  his  party  have  instilled,  and  that 
the  people  see  them  in  their  true  light,  yet  I  can- 
not approve  their  having  employed  such  atrocious 
means  of  showing  their  discontent."1 

A  year  or  so  later  Auckland  writes :  "  It  is 
impossible  to  describe  to  you  how  perfectly  well 
the  King  is.  He  is  quite  an  altered  man,  and  not 
what  you  knew  him  even  before  his  illness.  His 
manner  is  gentle,  quiet,  and,  when  he  is  pleased, 
quite  cordial.  He  speaks,  even  of  those  who  are 
opposed  to  his  government,  with  complacency,  and 
without  sneer  or  acrimony.  As  long  as  he  remains 
so  well,  the  tranquillity  of  this  country  is  on  a 
rock,  for  the  public  prosperity  is  great,  and  the 
nation  is  right-minded,  and  the  commerce  and 
resources  are  increasing."  2 

Let  a  candid,  dispassionate  posterity  say  how 
much  of  this  tranquillity,  this  right-mindedness,  was 
owing  to  the  example  of  George  III. 

The  death  of  Lord  North  in  1792  rendered  it 
possible  for  the  King  to  testify  in  a  public  manner 
his  appreciation  of  Pitt's  services.  North  hi 
succeeded  two  years  previously  as  third  Earl  oi 
Guilford.  <c  Having  this  morning  received,"  wrote 
George  to  his  Minister  on  the  6th  August,  "th< 

1  Quarterly  Review,  vol.  Ixxix.  p.  517. 

2  Auckland  Correspondence,  ii.  396. 


account  of  the  death  of  the  Earl  of  Guilford,  I  take 
the  first  opportunity  of  acquainting  Mr.  Pitt  that 
the  Wardenship  of  the  Cinque  Ports  is  an  office  for 
which  I  will  not  receive  any  recommendations,  hav- 
ing positively  resolved  to  confer  it  on  him  as  a  mark 
of  that  regard  which  his  eminent  services  have 
deserved  from  me.  I  am  so  bent  on  this,  that  I 
shall  be  seriously  offended  at  any  attempt  to  decline. 
I  have  intimated  these  my  intentions  to  the  Earl 
of  Chatham,  Lord  Grenville,  and  Mr.  Dundas." : 

Pitt  wrote  his  friend  George  Rose  to  say,  "  I  have 
had  a  letter  from  the  King  making  the  offer  in  the 
handsomest  way  possible,  and  have  accepted."2  It 
was  about  this  time  that  Pitt  parted  company  with 
Thurlow,  the  Lord  Chancellor.  Thurlow's  ill-temper, 
his  domineering  manners,  and  the  high  personal 
regard  of  the  King,  made  him  a  difficult  colleague. 
The  Chancellor  thought  he  was  indispensable. 
"  Thurlow,"  said  Lord  North  shortly  before  his  death, 
"thinks  that  his  personal  influence  with  the  King 
authorises  him  to  treat  Mr.  Pitt  with  humour.  Take 
my  word  for  it,  whenever  Mr.  Pitt  says  to  the  King, 
(  Sir,  the  Great  Seal  must  be  in  other  hands,'  the 
King  will  take  the  Great  Seal  from  Lord  Thurlow, 
and  never  think  any  more  about  him."  The  pro- 
phecy was  fulfilled,  although  George  did  make 
an  indulgent  appeal  for  his  Chancellor.  "  I  did 
not  think,"  Thurlow  told  Eldon,  "that  the  King 
would  have  parted  with  me  so  easily.  As  to  that 
other  man,"  he  added  grimly,  referring  to  Pitt,  "  he 

1  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt,  xi.,  Appendix,  p.  xv. 

2  Rose's  Diaries  and  Correspondence,  i.  p.  114. 



has  done  to  me  just  what  I  should  have  done  to  him 
-if  I  could." 

Such  was  the  political  state  of  affairs,  internal  as 
well  as  external,  when  Parliament  met  on  the  13th 
of  December  1792.  The  speech  from  the  throne 
intimated  that  the  King  had  judged  it  necessary 
to  embody  a  part  of  the  militia,  and  to  summon 
Parliament  within  the  time  limited  for  that  purpose. 
The  discovery  of  seditious  practices  was  mentioned, 
and  the  spirit  of  tumult  and  disorder  evinced  in  acts 
of  riot  and  insurrection,  requiring  military  interven- 
tion in  support  of  the  civil  magistrate.  "  The 
industry,"  it  added,  "  employed  to  excite  discontent 
on  various  pretexts,  and  in  different  parts  of  the 
kingdom,  appeared  to  proceed  from  a  design  to 
attempt  the  destruction  of  our  happy  constitution 
and  the  subversion  of  all  order  and  government, 
and  that  this  design  had  evidently  been  pursued  in 
connection  and  concert  with  persons  in  foreign 

The  King  had  carefully  observed,  it  went  on,  a 
strict  neutrality  in  the  present  war  on  the  Continent, 
and  had  uniformly  abstained  from  any  interference 
with  respect  to  the  internal  affairs  of  France.  But 
it  was  impossible  for  him  to  see  without  the  most 
serious  uneasiness  the  strong  and  increasing  indica- 
tions which  had  appeared  there  of  an  intention  to 
excite  disturbances  in  other  countries,  to  disregard 
the  rights  of  neutral  nations,  and  to  pursue  views 
of  conquest  and  aggrandisement,  as  well  as  to 
adopt  towards  his  allies,  the  States- General,  measures 
neither  conformable  to  the  law  of  nations,  nor  to  the 


positive  stipulations  of  existing  treaties.  Under  all 
these  circumstances,  he  felt  it  his  indispensable  duty 
to  have  recourse  to  those  means  of  prevention  and 
internal  defence  with  which  he  was  intrusted  by  law, 
and  thought  it  right  to  take  some  steps  for  making 
some  augmentation  of  his  naval  and  military  force, 
being  persuaded  that  these  exertions  were  necessary 
in  the  present  state  of  affairs,  and  were  best  calcu- 
lated both  to  maintain  internal  tranquillity  and  to 
render  a  firm  and  temperate  conduct  effectual  for 
preserving  the  blessings  of  peace.1 

The  vigorous  measures  adopted  were  received  by 
the  nation  with  satisfaction.  Fresh  addresses  poured 
in.  All  this,  however,  only  seemed  to  harden  Fox 
and  his  little  band  of  "  stalwarts." 

At  first  Pitt  was  resolved  not  to  be  led  into 
war,  but  the  conduct  of  the  French  Convention  in 
invading  Holland,  together  with  its  invitation  to 
the  subjects  of  other  States  in  Europe  to  revolt, 
made  war  inevitable.  The  Foreign  Secretary,  Gren- 
ville,  the  son  of  George's  early  Prime  Minister,  was 
not  surprised  when  it  came.  The  execution  of  Louis 
XVI.  on  the  21st  January  was  followed  by  an  order 
to  the  French  emissary  Chauvelin  to  quit  the  king- 
dom, and  on  the  1st  of  February  France  declared  war 
on  England  and  Holland. 

George  was  far  from  anxious  for  war,  but  he, 
like  the  rest  of  the  nation,  was  roused  by  the  "in- 
solence" of  France  and  the  menace  which  the 
Revolution  offered  to  the  true  liberties  of  Europe. 
The  King,  observes  Jesse,  was  "  reluctantly  induced 

1  Parliamentary  History. 



to  join  in  the  almost  general  desire  for  a  crusade 
on  behalf  of  religion,  property,  and  order."  "  If," 
he  wrote  Pitt  on  the  2nd  February  1793— "if  the 
occasion  ever  could  occur  that  every  Power,  for  the 
preservation  of  society,  must  stand  forth  in  opposition 
to  France,  the  necessity  seems  to  be  at  the  present 
hour.  Indeed  my  natural  sentiments  are  so  strong 
for  peace,  that  no  event  of  less  moment  than  the 
present  could  have  made  me  decidedly  of  opinion  that 
duty,  as  well  as  interest,  calls  on  us  to  join  against 
that  most  savage  as  well  as  unprincipled  nation." 1 

While  the  nation  was  thus  facing  a  dangerous 
foe,  in  1794  the  Prince  of  Wales  consented,  from 
his  dire  pecuniary  necessity,  to  obey  his  father's 
and  the  express  wish  of  the  country  and  marry  as 
became  his  station.  On  the  24th  August  George 
wrote  from  Wey mouth :  "  Agreeable  to  what  I 
mentioned  to  Mr.  Pitt  before  I  came  here,  I  have 
this  morning  seen  the  Prince  of  Wales,  who  has 
acquainted  me  with  his  having  broken  off  all 
connection  with  Mrs.  Fitzherbert,  and  his  desire 
of  entering  into  a  more  creditable  line  of  life  by 
marrying ;  expressing  at  the  same  time  that  his 
wish  is  that  my  niece,  the  Princess  of  Brunswick, 
may  be  the  person.  Undoubtedly  she  is  the  person 
who  naturally  must  be  most  agreeable  to  me.  I 
expressed  my  approbation  of  the  idea,  provided  his 
plan  was  to  lead  a  life  that  would  make  him 
appear  respectable,  and  consequently  render  the 
Princess  happy.  He  assured  me  that  he  perfectly 
coincided  with  me  in  opinion.  I  then  said  that 

1  Stanhope's  Pitt. 



till  Parliament  assembled  no  arrangement  could  be 
taken  except  my  sounding  my  sister,  that  no  idea 
of  any  other  marriage  may  be  encouraged."  l 

The  Princess  Caroline  was  then  in  the  twenty- 
seventh  year  of  her  age.  She  had,  according  to 
Malmesbury,  who  conducted  the  negotiations,  "a 
pretty  face,  not  expressive  of  softness ;  her  figure 
not  graceful ;  fine  eyes,  good  hands ;  tolerable  teeth, 
but  going ;  fair  hair  and  light  eyebrows ;  good 
bust;  short,  with  what  the  French  call  les  epaules 
impertinentes ;  vastly  happy  with  her  future  ex- 
pectations." 2 

On  the  8th  April  Caroline  arrived,  and  was 
married  to  the  Prince  in  the  Chapel  Royal  of  St. 
James's  Palace.  The  King  gave  away  the  bride. 
As  for  the  Prince,  he  not  only  was  completely  miser- 
able, but  manifested  it  on  this  occasion  by  drinking 
somewhat  more  wine  and  spirits  than  were  good 
for  him.  It  was  destined  to  be,  what  its  pre- 
liminaries augured,  an  ill-starred  marriage. 

The  failure  of  George's  son,  the  Duke  of  York, 
in  the  Netherlands  campaign  was  a  further  cause  of 
mortification  to  his  father.  No  doubt  the  Duke 
was  a  brave  and  even  an  able  officer,  but  he  had 
undertaken  a  task  where  success  was  all  but  im- 
possible. Pitt  held  out  as  long  as  he  could,  but 
the  popular  outcry  was  too  great,  and  he  felt  it 
his  duty  to  urge  the  King  to  recall  the  Duke 
from  his  command.  To  his  letter  George  replied 
as  follows  : — 

1  Stanhope's  Pitt,  ii.,  Appendix,  p.  xx. 

2  Malmesbury's  Diaries,  iii.  pp.  148-9. 



"  Mr.  Pitt  cannot  be  surprised  at  my  being 
very  hurt  at  the  contents  of  his  letter.  Indeed  he  : 
seems  to  expect  it,  but  I  am  certain  that  nothing 
but  the  thinking  it  his  duty  could  have  instigated 
him  to  give  me  so  severe  a  blow.  I  am  neither  in 
a  situation  of  mind,  nor  from  inclination,  inclined 
to  enter  more  minutely  into  every  part  of  his  letter ; 
but  I  am  fully  ready  to  answer  the  material  part, 
namely,  that  though  loving  very  much  my  son,  j 
and  not  forgetting  how  he  saved  the  Republic  of 
Holland  in  1793,  and  that  his  endeavours  to  be  of 
service  have  never  abated,  and  that  to  the  conduct  | 
of  Austria,  the  faithlessness  of  Prussia,  and  the 
cowardice  of  the  Dutch,  every  failure  is  easily  to 
be  accounted  for,  without  laying  blame  on  him 
who  deserved  a  better  fate,  I  shall  certainly  now 
not  think  it  safe  for  him  to  continue  in  the  com- 
mand on  the  Continent,  when  every  one  seems  to 
conspire  to  render  his  situation  hazardous  by  either 
propagating  unfounded  complaints  against  him,  or 
giving  credit  to  them. 

"  No  one  will  believe  that  I  take  this  step  but  re- 
luctantly, and  the  more  so  since  no  successor  of  note 
is  proposed  to  take  the  command.  Truly  I  do  not 
see  where  any  one  is  to  be  found  that  can  deserve  j 
that  name  now  the  Duke  of  Brunswick  has  declined ; 
and  I  am  certain  he  will  feel  the  propriety  of  the  re- 
solution he  has  taken,  when  he  finds  that  even  a  son 
of  mine  cannot  withstand  the  torrent  of  abuse." 

After  this  the  Duke  was  recalled  to  England. 
Three  weeks   after  his  return  he  was  advanced  to 
field-marshal's    rank   and   appointed    commander-in- 


chief  of  the  army.  The  more  shameful  troubles  which 
were  to  overtake  him  were  still  far  away. 

In  the  course  of  the  ensuing  twelvemonth,  when 
the  war  had  sent  up  the  price  of  provisions  and 
caused  serious  outbreaks  in  the  kingdom,  there  were 
two  attempted  assassinations  of  the  King.  The  first 
happened  on  the  29th  October,  when  the  King  was 
on  his  way  to  open  Parliament.  The  crowd  in  the 
streets  was  obviously  bent  on  disorder,  and  the  ex- 
ample of  mobs  on  the  other  side  of  the  Channel  was 
before  them.  Cries  of  "Bread,  bread,"  "Peace, 
peace  ! "  "  Down  with  Pitt ! "  together  with  groans 
and  hisses,  rang  out  all  along  the  route.  One  of  the 
two  Peers  sitting  with  the  King  sprang  up  in  alarm. 
"  Sit  still,  my  lord,"  said  George  quietly  ;  "  we  must 
not  betray  fear  whatever  happens."  As  the  royal 
carriage  moved  slowly  on,  the  mob  pressed  close 
upon  it.  Midway  between  St.  James's  Palace  and 
the  gates  of  Carlton  House  the  mob  separated  the 
royal  carriage  from  the  guards  who  accompanied  the 
King,  pressing  so  close  that  many  feared  to  see  the 
King  dragged  out  and  sacrificed  to  their  fury.  Con- 
temporaries compared  this  British  mob  to  the  French 
mob  who  stopped  the  unhappy  Louis  XVI.  on  his 
road  to  St.Cloud.  "  Everything  seemed  French  about 
them  ;  their  cries,  their  gestures,  their  principles,  and 
their  actions,  alt  plainly  indicated  the  polluted  source 
whence  they  sprung,  and  proved  that  they  were  not 
of  British  origin  or  growth." 

"  I  had  the  misfortune,"  says  Gifford,  "  to  be  a 
spectator  of  this  disgraceful  scene.  I  have  seen 
many  mobs  in  my  life,  but  never  did  I  behold  such 



an  assemblage  of  ill-looking,  desperate  wretches  a< 
were  collected  together  on  the  present  occasion. 
And  as  far  as  the  designs  of  men  can  be  inferred 
from  their  looks,  their  language  and  gestures,  the 
designs  of  this  rabble,  who  so  basely  dishonoured 
the  name  and  character  of  Englishmen,  were  most 
treasonable  and  murderous." 

The  King  reached  Whitehall  in  safety.  As  the 
coach  was  passing  through  the  palace  yard  the  window 
was  perforated  by  a  bullet  fired  from  an  air-gun. 
The  bullet  proceeded  from  an  empty  house.  The 
windows  of  every  other  house  on  the  road  were  filled 
with  spectators.  This  alone  was  untenanted. 

At  St.  Stephen's,  George  ("than  whom,"  says 
Mr.  Hunt,  "  no  braver  man  lived  in  his  dominions  ") 
ascended  the  stairs,  robed  himself,  and  free  from  the 
smallest  agitation,  read  the  speech  with  peculiar 
correctness,  and  without  a  trace  of  perturbation. 
Not  so  his  courtiers,  who  were  filled  with  agitation. 
In  getting  into  his  coach  again  to  return  he  said, 
"  Well,  my  lords,  one  person  is  proposing  this,  and 
another  is  supposing  that,  forgetting  there  is  One 
above  us  all  who  disposes  of  everything,  and  on 
Whom  alone  we  depend."  As  the  coach  turned  the 
corner  it  again  encountered  the  mob  in  great  numbers. 
Loudly  vociferating  "  D — n  him,  out  with  him,"  they 
charged  and  took  hold  of  the  spokes  of  the  wheels. 
At  that  critical  moment  a  member  named  Beding- 
field,  who  was  standing  near  the  wall  of  the  garden 
waiting  for  his  horses,  darted  forward  to  the  King's 
assistance.  Several  ruffians  who  had  hold  of  the 
carriage,  and  impeded  its  progress,  were  felled  on  the 

GEORGE   III.,   JETAT.   60 

x)ot,  and  one  man  at  least  had  bones  broken.  The 
King  quietly  thanked  his  rescuer,  saying  that  he  came 
just  in  time.  "  Thus,"  comments  an  earlier  biographer 
of  Pitt,  "  to  the  activity  and  presence  of  mind  of  this 
loyal  gentleman  was  the  country  in  all  probability  in- 
debted for  having  rescued  her  character  from  the 
foulest  stain  which  the  hand  of  a  regicide  could  inflict, 
and  which  no  expiation,  no  atonement,  ever  would 
have  effaced." l 

In  consequence  of  the  day's  outrages  against  his 
Majesty,  Lord  Grenville  carried  a  Bill  through 
Parliament,  by  which  it  was  enacted  that  "if  any 
persons  should  compass,  or  imagine,  or  intend  death, 
destruction,  or  any  bodily  harm  to  the  person  of  the 
King,  or  to  depose  him,  or  waylay,  in  order,  by  force, 
to  compel  him  to  change  his  measures  or  counsels, 
or  to  overawe  either  House  of  Parliament,  or  to 
incite  an  invasion  of  any  of  his  Majesty's  dominions, 
and  shall  express  and  declare  such  intentions  by 
printing,  writing,  or  any  overt  act,  he  shall  suffer 
death  as  a  traitor." 

These  were  indeed  England's  darkest  days.  There 
was  little  consolation  abroad,  and  despondency  at 
home.  Famine  stalked  through  the  kingdom,  and 
many  perished  through  absolute  want.  Distress 
made  the  people  desperate,  and  treason  and  rebellion 
threatened  the  realm. 

The  alarm  of  the  attack  in  Whitehall  on  the  King 
had  hardly  subsided  when  another  occurred.  On 
returning  through  Pall  Mall  to  Buckingham  House 
from  Drury  Lane  theatre  on  the  1st  February 

1  Gifford,  Political  Life  of  Pitt. 



1796  a  stone  was  launched  at  the  coach,  containing 
George  and  Charlotte  and  the  lady-in-waiting.  The 
stone  broke  the  window,  but  only  fell  into  Lady 
Harrington's  lap.  A  reward  of  £1000  was  imme- 
diately offered  for  the  detection  of  the  offender,  who 
was  never  discovered. 

How  deeply  alive  the  King  was  to  these  omens 
may  be  gathered  by  the  fact  that  he  calmly  told 
Lord  Eldon  that  he  considered  it  not  improbable 
that  he  should  be  the  last  King  of  England.1 

Like  sunshine  came  Jervis's  glorious  victory 
over  the  Spanish  fleet  off*  Cape  St.  Vincent,  and 
the  further  one  in  1797  of  Camperdown.  George 
wrote  to  his  friend  Bishop  Hurd,  "  The  valour  of  the 
Navy  never  shone  more  than  in  the  late  glorious 
action  off  Camperdown  on  the  Dutch  coast,  and  I 
trust  its  effects  will  render  our  enemies  more  humble, 
and  that  while  my  subjects  praise  the  conduct  of  the 
officers  and  sailors,  that  they  will  return  thanks,  where 
most  due,  to  the  Almighty,  who  has  crowned  their 
endeavours  with  success.  I  feel  this  last  sentiment 
so  strongly,  that  I  propose  to  order  a  thanksgiving  on 
the  occasion,  in  which  1  mean  to  join,  in  consequence 
of  the  success  over  the  Dutch,  the  two  memorable 
battles  of  Earl  Howe  over  the  French,  and  the  Earl 
of  St  Vincent  over  the  Spaniards.  Without  true 
seeds  of  religion  no  people  can  be  happy,  nor  will  be 
obedient  to  legal  authority  ;  nor  will  those  in  com- 
mand be  moderate  in  the  exercise  of  it,  if  not  con- 
vinced that  they  are  answerable  to  a  Higher  Power 
for  their  conduct.  But  were  I  to  indulge  myself  on 

i  Twiss's  Life  of  Eldon,  vol.  i.  p.  293. 


this  subject,  I  should  certainly  obtrude  too  long  on 
your  patience.  I  will,  therefore,  conclude  with  every 
assurance  of  feeling  much  interest,  my  good  lord, 
in  your  health  and  happiness." 

"  I  was  in  the  room  at  Windsor  Castle,"  writes 
a  lady  who  knew  the  King  and  Queen  well,  "  when 
the  news  was  brought  of  the  victory  over  the  Dutch 
fleet  at  Camperdown  by  Admiral  Duncan.  The 
King  seemed  overpowered  with  its  magnitude,  and 
pacing  up  and  down  the  long  dark  room  in  which 
he  usually  sat,  appeared  occasionally  to  ejaculate 
something  in  a  low  voice,  when  the  Princess  Augusta 
said  to  him,  '  Papa,  you  are  not  half  happy  enough  ; 
so  many  of  the  Dutch  have  fallen,  and  so  few  of  our 
English ! '  Repeating  her  observation,  he  turned 
short,  as  if  awakened  from  a  reverie,  and  said,  with 
a  sharpness  not  usual  with  him,  *  Remember, 
Augusta,  there  are  just  as  many  widows  and  orphans 
as  if  they  were  all  English ! '  So  feelingly  and 
meekly  did  he  bear  prosperity !  " l 

As  to  the  famous  mutiny  at  the  Nore  which 
occurred  in  1797,  it  was  chiefly  owing  to  George's 
good  sense  and  resolution,  added  to  the  mild,  though 
decisive,  measures  he  recommended,  that  it  was 
favourably  ended.  It  is  said  he  even  felt  some  re- 
luctance to  sign  the  death-warrant  of  Parker,  the 
ringleader,  but  it  was  urged  that  the  safety  of  the 
State  required  that  an  example  should  be  made  of 
so  desperate  a  rebel.  "Then,"  said  George,  "my 
private  feelings  must  not  be  consulted." 

I        One  of  his  sayings  to  Lord  Northesk  was  :  "  I  am 
i  Stuart  MS. 


not  ignorant  of  the  character  of  a  British  sailor ;  he 
may  be  misled  for  a  time,  but  he  will  eventually 
return  to  his  duty.  However,  to  give  is  one  thing, 
to  demand  is  another,  and  in  the  latter  case  con- 
cession would  be  a  fault." 

During  1798  and  1799  the  King  spent  some  weeks 
at  Weymouth,  to  which  watering-place  he  evinced  a 
decided  partiality.  From  Weymouth  we  find  him 
addressing  many  letters  to  his  advisers  and  to  his 
soldiers  and  sailors,  letters  which  evince  his  great 
interest  in  the  affairs  of  the  realm,  and  proof  of  his 
wisdom  and  experience.  Three  or  four  weeks  after 
the  death  of  General  Howe  George  wrote  to  his 
sister  :  "  I  trust  Mrs.  Howe  knows  me  better  than  to 
suppose  my  long  silence  on  the  great  loss  the  public 
has  sustained,  as  well  as  her  family,  by  the  unexpected 
death  of  her  excellent  brother,  has  been  occasioned 
by  any  other  motive  than  the  desire  not  to  intrude 
while  she  was  so  fully  employed  in  acts  of  attentive 
kindness  to  his  relations,  who  must  have  found  much 
comfort  from  such  attention.  I  trust  the  example 
he  has  set  the  Navy  will  long  continue  to  stimulate, 
not  only  the  matchless  bravery  of  the  officers,  but 
convince  them  of  the  necessity  to  view  the  profession 
in  a  scientific  light,  by  which  alone  those  improve- 
ments are  to  be  acquired  which  will  retain  that 
superiority  over  other  nations  which  every  English- 
man must  desire. 

"  His  exemplary  conduct  in  private  life  must,  on 

the   present   melancholy  occasion,  be  the  only  true 

comfort  to  those  who  loved  him,  as  it  gives  that  hope 

of  his  having  quitted  this  transient  world  for  eternal 



happiness  through  the  mediation  of  our  blessed 
Redeemer.  If  I  did  not  feel  the  propriety  of  not 
adding  more  on  so  glorious  a  theme,  my  pen  would 
but  too  willingly  continue. 

"  The  family,  I  find,  are  removed  to  Porter's  Lodge. 
The  first  moments  there  were  of  fresh  sorrow,  but  I 
trust  that  the  quietness  of  the  place,  and  the  good 
air,  will  be  of  use.  I  fear  Mrs.  Howe  does  not  now 
render  that  justice  to  air  she  formerly  did  ;  but  if  she 
was  here,  and  saw  how  well  it  agrees  with  her  little 
friend,  and  how  much  she  hops  about,  I  think  she 
could  not  deny  it  has  some  efficacy." 1 

In  a  letter  to  the  Bishop  of  Worcester,  dated  New 
Year's  Day  1800,  we  find  the  first  reference  in  the 
King's  letters  to  Napoleon,  who  a  few  weeks  before 
had  procured  his  election  as  First  Consul.  "  I  know 
you  are  no  great  lover  of  political  subjects,  yet 
the  impudent  overthrow  of  the  monstrous  French 
Republic  by  a  Corsican  adventurer,  and  his  creating 
himself  to  be  lawgiver  and  executor  of  his  own 
decrees,  must  have  astonished  you.  Without  more 
foresight  than  common-sense  dictates,  one  may  allege 
that  his  impious  pre-eminence  cannot  be  of  long 

But  Bonaparte's  future  could  not  be  prophesied 
by  the  rules  of  common-sense.  Before  long  the 
Scourge  of  Europe  was  to  plunge  George  and  his 
subjects  into  greater  and  a  more  prolonged  uneasi- 
ness than  they  had  ever  felt  before. 

In  the  spring  of  this  year,  and  the  last  of  the 

1  Barrow's  Life  of  Earl  Howe,  pp.  387,  388. 

2  Bentley's  Miscellany,  vol.  xxvii.  p.  513. 



century,  while  George  was  reviewing  the  Grenadier 
Guards  in  Hyde  Park,  a  gentleman  standing  not  far 
from  the  King  received,  just  after  an  order  to  the 
Guards  to  fire  a  discharge  of  blank  cartridges,  a 
bullet  in  his  thigh.  The  instantaneous  thought  was 
that  this  was  an  attempted  assassination,  and  the 
utmost  excitement  prevailed.  In  the  midst  of  it  the 
King  serenely  spurred  his  horse  towards  the  victim, 
and  after  making  inquiries  ordered  two  military 
officers  of  rank  to  attend  him.  An  equerry  proposed 
to  send  the  Princesses  from  the  field.  "  I  will  not," 
said  George,  "  have  one  of  them  stir  for  the  world." 

The  same  evening  the  King  and  Queen  and  the 
Princesses  Augusta,  Elizabeth,  Mary,  and  Amelia, 
with  the  usual  attendants,  honoured  the  theatre  with 
their  presence  to  see  the  comedy  of  "  She  would  and 
She  would  not,"  and  the  farce  of  the  "  Humourist." 
Just  as  George  entered  his  box,  and  while  he  was 
bowing  to  the  audience  with  his  customary  condes- 
cension, an  individual  sitting  in  the  second  row  of  the 
orchestra  stood  up,  levelled  a  horse-pistol  towards 
the  King's  box,  and  fired  it.  So  instantaneous  was 
the  action  as  to  prevent  any  from  seeing  his  design 
in  time  to  defeat  it.  A  neighbour,  however,  knocked 
up  the  arm  of  the  would-be  assassin,  and  the  contents 
of  the  pistol  only  struck  the  roof  of  the  royal  box. 

"  Never,"  writes  Michael  Kelly,  the  author  of 
the  "  Reminiscences,"  who  was  on  the  stage  at  the 
time,  "shall  I  forget  his  Majesty's  coolness.  The 
whole  audience  was  in  an  uproar.  The  King  on 
hearing  the  report  of  the  pistol  retired  a  pace  or  two, 
stopped,  and  stood  firmly  for  an  instant,  then  came 

GEORGE  III.,  .ETAT.   63 
(From  the  Portrait  by  Corbould) 


forward  to  the  front  of  the  box,  put  his  opera-glass 
to  his  eye,  and  looked  round  the  house  without  the 
smallest  appearance  of  alarm  or  discomposure." l 

Lord  Salisbury,  the  Lord  Chamberlain,  who 
pressed  the  King  to  withdraw  to  an  anteroom, 
received  a  similar  reply  to  that  addressed  to  the 
equerry  in  the  morning :  "  Sir,"  said  his  sovereign, 
"  you  discompose  me  as  well  as  yourself ;  I  shall  not 
stir  one  step." 

It  so  happened  that  behind  the  scenes  was 
Richard  Brinsley  Sheridan.  The  National  Anthem 
being  demanded  no  fewer  than  three  times  during 
the  performance,  Sheridan  seized  a  pen  and  paper 
and  dashed  off  the  following  additional  stanza : — 

From  every  latent  foe, 
From  the  assassin^  blow, 

God  save  the  King ! 
O'er  him  Thine  arm  extend, 
For  Britain's  sake  defend 
Our  Father,  Prince  and  Friend  : 

God  save  the  King  ! 

The  impromptu  was  delivered  by  Kelly,  and  was 
received  with  most  rapturous  approbation.  From 
the  moment  George  heard  of  this  incident  his 
feelings  towards  Sheridan  visibly  softened. 

"  The  King,"  wrote  Hannah  More  to  one  of  her 
sisters,  "  was  wonderfully  great  and  collected  through 
the  whole ;  but  when  the  house  continued  shouting 
for  an  unreasonable  length  of  time,  he  appeared 
mch  affected,  sat  down,  and  looked  for  a  minute 

1  Reminiscences  of  Michael  Kelly,  ii.  p.  156. 



on  the  ground.  AVhen  he  got  home  he  said  to  the 
Queen,  'As  it  is  all  safe,  I  am  not  sorry  it  has 
happened,  for  I  cannot  regret  anything  that  has 
caused  so  much  affection  to  be  displayed." 1 

Wraxall  in  his  "Memoirs,"  speaking  of  the  conduct 
of  the  King  on  this  occasion,  says :  "  Few  of  his 
subjects  would  have  shown  the  presence  of  mind, 
and  attention  to  everything  except  himself,  which 
pervaded  his  whole  conduct.  His  whole  anxiety  was 
directed  towards  the  Queen,  who,  not  having  entered 
the  box,  he  apprehended,  on  hearing  of  the  event, 
would  be  overcome  by  her  surprise  or  emotions." 

When  George  bade  his  family  good- night  he 
calmly  said,  "  I  am  going  to  bed  with  a  confidence 
that  I  shall  sleep  soundly,  and  my  prayer  is,  that  the 
poor  unhappy  prisoner  who  aimed  at  my  life  may 
rest  as  quietly  as  I  shall."  The  would-be  assassin 
turned  out  to  be  an  ex-soldier  named  Had  field,  whose 
insanity  was  so  manifest  that  he  was  merely  confined. 

At  the  first  levee  held  by  the  King  after 
Hadfield's  attempt,  the  multitude  of  persons  of  dis- 
tinction of  every  party  who  came  to  offer  congratu- 
lations was  unprecedented.  Congratulatory  addresses 
were  voted  by  Parliament  and  by  the  Universities 
of  Oxford  and  Cambridge.  "  I  was  amply  compen- 
sated," writes  Somerville,  who  had  been  disappointed 
of  his  presentation  at  Court,  "  by  witnessing  a  con- 
gratulatory address  presented  to  his  Majesty  on  the 
throne,  and  hearing  his  answer,  delivered  with  great 
dignity,  and  with  sensible  emotion  when  he  referred 
to  the  danger  which  he  had  escaped." 

1  Memoirs  of  Hannah  More,  vol.  iii.  pp.  106-7  (3rd  edition). 


Besides  the  several  open  attacks,  George  received 
during  the  course  of  his  reign  innumerable  anonymous 
letters  threatening  his  life,  all  of  which  he  treated 
with  uniform  indifference.  Lord  Sandwich  once 
assured  Wraxall  that  he  had  seen  several  of  them, 
shown  him  by  the  King  at  Weymouth.  While 
residing  there  during  successive  seasons,  he  was 
warned  not  to  ride  out  on  particular  days  on  certain 
roads  if  he  valued  his  safety.  Despite  this  George 
never  failed  to  mount  his  horse  and  to  take  the  very 
road  indicated  in  the  letter.  "  I  very  well  know," 
he  said  to  Sandwich,  "  that  any  man  who  chooses  to 
sacrifice  his  own  life  may,  whenever  he  pleases,  take 
away  mine,  riding  out,  as  I  do  continually,  with  a 
single  equerry  and  a  footman.  I  only  hope  that 
whoever  may  attempt  it  wrill  not  do  it  in  a  barbarous 
or  brutal  manner." l 

Surely,  it  is  not  surprising  that  a  sovereign  such 
as  this  had  earned  the  respect  of  the  brave,  as  he 
had  the  esteem  and  reverence  of  the  wise  in  his 

i  Wraxall,  vol.  i.  pp.  297-8. 




THROUGHOUT  his  reign  the  government  of  Ireland  had 
caused  George  great  trouble  and  anxiety.  He  was 
perpetually  interfering  to  prevent  the  bickerings  and 
jealousies  of  Irish  politicians,  next  to  those  of  the 
South  American  Republics  the  most  factious  on 
the  face  of  the  earth. 

It  was  a  shrewd  observation  of  the  King's,  when 
time  and  experience  had  taught  him  a  thorough 
knowledge  of  mankind,  that  "  he  had  never  known 
a  Scotchman  speak  ill  of  another  unless  he  had  a 
motive  for  it,  and  that  he  had  never  known  one 
Irishman  speak  well  of  another  except  from  a  similar 
selfish  inducement." 

George  had  been  one  of  the  first  to  urge  the 
expediency  of  a  legislative  Union  between  Great 
Britain  and  Ireland.  He  had  lived  to  see  that 
expediency  forced  upon  the  minds  of  statesmen,  and 
the  rebellion  of  1798  served  to  hasten  the  measure. 
On  the  6th  May  we  find  him  writing  to  Pitt :  "  I 
shall  receive  the  joint  address  of  the  two  Houses, 
which  will,  I  trust,  effect  one  of  the  most  useful 
measures  that  has  been  effected  during  my  reign- 
one  that  will  give  stability  to  the  whole  Empire,  and, 
from  the  want  of  industry  and  capital  in  Ireland,  be 


little  felt  by  this  country  as  diminishing  its  trade  and 
manufactures;  for  the  advantages  to  Ireland  can 
only  arise  by  slow  degrees,  and  the  wealth  of  Great 
Britain  will  undoubtedly,  by  furnishing  the  rest  of 
the  globe  with  its  articles  of  commerce,  not  feel  any 
material  disadvantages  in  that  particular  from  the 
future  prosperity  of  Ireland."1 

In  spite  of  the  hostility  to  the  Bill  on  the  part 
of  Fox,  Sheridan,  Grey,  and  Tierney,  it  became,  on 
the  2nd  July,  the  law  of  the  land,  and  on  the 
1st  January  1801  the  imperial  Union  banner  waved 
for  the  first  time  over  Dublin  Castle.  But  the  Act 
of  Union  was  destined  to  bring  immediate  evils  in 
its  train.  Not  the  least  of  these  was  the  retirement 
of  Pitt.  For  the  Union  inevitably  raised  the  great 
question  of  Catholic  Emancipation.  On  this  question 
we  can  only  say  for  George  III.  that  he  was  not  in 
advance  of  his  time.  Some  of  the  clearest  heads  and 
warmest  hearts  in  Britain  were  opposed,  and  violently 
opposed,  to  that  measure.  We  have  only  to  read 
the  witty  and  forcible  pleas  of  Sydney  Smith  to 
become  aware  of  the  great  change  in  the  direction  of 
enlightenment  and  tolerance  which  a  single  century 
has  brought  about  in  Britain.  Statements  which 
were  amazing  paradoxes  are  now  veriest  common- 
places ;  arguments  that  to  us  seem  absurd  in  their 
elaborate  ingenuity  were  brought  to  bear  by  the 
greatest  of  wits  on  the  most  enlightened  and  benevo- 
lent classes  in  Europe,  and  were  brought  to  bear 
in  vain.  The  fear  of  "  Popery  "  was  too  real ;  the 
Scots  threatened  revolt.  Was  this  a  time,  men 

1  Stanhope's  Pitt,  vol.  iii.,  Appendix,  p.  xx. 



asked,  when  we  should  assimilate  the  loose  doctrines  | 
and  wicked  latitudinarianism  of  the  free-thinking 
French  ?  On  general  principles,  George  would  not  ! 
perhaps  have  lent  his  opposition  to  Catholic  Emanci- 
pation, he  would  not  have  been  averse  from  permitting 
Irish  Roman  Catholics  to  sit  in  Parliament  and  to 
hold  offices  of  State.  But  here,  as  in  the  American 
contest,  he  had  a  grave  and  fundamental  reason  for 
his  own  opposition.  He  was  against  every  kind  of 
religious  persecution.  On  the  other  hand,  there  was 
a  conscientious  conviction  of  his  duty.  "  I  could 
give  my  crown  and  retire  from  power,"  said  George 
to  Lord  Eldon,  "  I  could  quit  my  palace  and  live  in 
a  cottage,  I  could  lay  my  head  on  a  block  and  lose 
my  life,  but  I  cannot  break  my  Coronation  oath." l 

The  Coronation  oath  is  distinct  and  implicit.  The 
King  had  sworn  to  maintain  the  Protestant  re- 
formed religion  established  by  law ;  he  had  sworn 
to  preserve  to  the  Protestant  bishops  and  clergy, 
and  to  the  churches  committed  to  their  charge, ! 
all  their  rights  and  privileges.  It  is  perfectly  clear  I 
that  what  actuated  George  in  his  pertinacious  resist- 
ance to  that  measure  was  not  theological  bigotry. 
The  doctrinal  differences  between  Protestants  and 
Roman  Catholics  were  of  little  moment  to  him. 
But  the  oath  which  he  had  taken  at  his  coronation 
to  support  the  established  Church  was  everything. 
George  was  a  man  of  steadfast  principles :  a  man 
of  steadfast  principles  is  perhaps  a  little  hard  to 
understand  to-day.  The  obligation  the  State  had 
laid  upon  him,  to  which  he  had  vowed  his  un- 

1  Twiss's  Life  of  Eldon,  ii.  358. 


reserved  adhesion,  he  resolved  at  all  costs  to  abide 
by.  "A  sense  of  religious  as  well  as  political 
duty,"  he  wrote  Pitt,  "  has  made  me,  from  the 
moment  I  mounted  the  throne,  consider  the  oath 
that  the  wisdom  of  our  forefathers  has  enjoined 
the  kings  of  this  realm  to  take  at  their  coronation, 
and  enforced  by  the  obligation  of  instantly  follow- 
ing it  in  the  course  of  the  ceremony  with  taking 
the  Sacrament,  as  a  binding  religious  obligation  on 
me  to  maintain  the  fundamental  maxims  on  which 
our  constitution  is  placed :  namely,  that  the  Church 
of  England  is  the  established  Church ;  that  those 
who  hold  employments  in  the  State  must  be  members 
of  it,  and  consequently  obliged  not  only  to  take 
oaths  against  Popery,  but  to  receive  the  Holy 
Communion  agreeably  to  the  rites  of  the  Church 
of  England."  To  concede  materially  political  power 
to  the  Roman  Catholics  would  be  to  diminish  the 
rights  and  privileges  of  the  Protestants.  "  Were 
I  to  consent  to  a  Catholic  Emancipation,"  George 
said  to  the  Duke  of  Portland,  "  I  should  betray  my 
trust,  and  forfeit  my  crown." 

He  even  thought  there  was  some  danger  of  the 
framers  of  the  measure  being  brought  to  the  scaffold. 
Such  scruples,  such  apprehensions  may  seem  singular 
to  us  to-day,  but  they  were  shared  by  several  of  the 
King's  advisers,  by  the  Primates  of  England  and 
Ireland,  by  the  Lord  Chancellors  of  both  countries, 
the  Chief  Justice  of  England,  the  bench  of  Bishops, 
and  by  a  large  majority  of  the  British  people.  If 
George  had  never  opposed  it,  had  he  even  favoured 
Catholic  Emancipation,  Pitt  could  never  have  carried 

49 i 


it  in  the  House  of  Commons,  and  it  would  certainly 
have  never  been  passed  by  the  Lords. 

Yet  it  was  this  Bill  Pitt  now  announced  his 
intention  of  introducing  into  Parliament.  It  was 
the  only  difference  of  opinion,  said  George,  which 
had  ever  been  between  Pitt  and  himself.  Worse 
still,  the  Minister  appeared  to  have  sprung  it  upon 
his  sovereign  without  notice.  When  he  heard  of  it 
a  few  days  before  the  King's  Speech,  George  sent 
off  a  letter  to  Addington,  the  Speaker.  To  him 
he  confided  the  very  strong  apprehension  which  he 
entertained,  that  "  a  most  mischievous  measure  "  for 
enabling  Roman  Catholics  to  sit  in  Parliament  is  in 
contemplation  by  the  Cabinet,  and  earnestly  urges 
him  to  use  his  utmost  endeavours  to  divert  his 
friend,  the  Premier,  from  his  purpose.  "  I  should 
be  taking  up  the  Speaker's  time  very  uselessly," 
writes  the  King,  "  if  I  said  more,  as  I  know  we  think 
alike  on  this  great  subject.  I  wish  he  would,  from 
himself,  open  Mr.  Pitt's  eyes  on  the  danger  arising 
from  the  agitating  this  improper  question,  which 
may  prevent  his  ever  speaking  to  me  on  a  subject 
on  which  I  can  scarcely  keep  my  temper."1 

Addington  saw  Pitt,  but  in  vain  were  his  en- 
deavours to  persuade  him.  The  Prime  Minister 
was  determined  to  bring  in  his  Bill  or  resign.  A 
correspondence  between  Pitt  and  the  King  followed. 
"The  perusal  of  the  King's  letters,"  afterwards 
wrote  Phillpotts,  Bishop  of  Exeter,  "  can  excite  but 
one  feeling  towards  the  King's  memory,  that  of 
increased  veneration  for  his  single-minded,  uncom- 

1  Pellew's  Life  of  Viscount  Sidmouth,  vol.  i.  pp.  285-6. 


promising,  conscientious  regard  to  the  solemn  obliga- 
tion which  the  duties  of  his  high  office,  and  above 
all,  his  oath,  had  imposed  upon  him."1 

George,  greatly  distressed,  passed  several  sleepless 
nights.  The  pressure  suddenly  brought  upon  him 
by  Pitt  with  regard  to  Catholic  Emancipation  was 
driving  him  into  an  illness.  He  unbosomed  himself 
to  one  of  his  equerries,  General  Garth.  "  Where," 
he  asked  forcibly,  "  is  that  power  on  earth  to  absolve 
me  from  the  due  observance  of  every  sentence  of 
that  oath,  particularly  the  one  requiring  me  to 
maintain  the  Protestant  reformed  religion  ?  Was 
not  my  family  seated  on  the  throne  for  that  express 
purpose,  and  shall  I  be  the  first  to  suffer  it  to  be 
undermined,  perhaps  overturned  ?  No  !  I  had  rather 
beg  my  bread  from  door  to  door  throughout  Europe 
than  consent  to  any  such  measure."2  On  another 
occasion,  having  read  his  Coronation  oath  to  his 
family  and  asked  them  if  they  understood  it,  he 
exclaimed,  "If  I  violate  it  I  am  no  longer  legal 
sovereign  of  this  country,  but  it  falls  to  the  House 
of  Savoy!"3 

The  upshot  was  that  Pitt  resigned.  On  Pitt's 
resignation  George  instantly  summoned  Addington 
to  take  the  seals.  The  Speaker  shrank  from  the 
task.  He  was  one  of  Pitt's  dearest  friends ;  they  had 
been  children  together,  their  fathers  had  been  close 
friends  before  them.  While  Addington  hesitated, 
Pitt  came  forward  and  urged  his  friend  to  accept 

1  Letters  from  the  King  to  Lord  Kenyan. 

2  Pellew's  Life  of  Lord  Sidmouth,  vol.  i.  pp.  285-6. 

3  Lord  Malmesbury's  Diaries,  vol.  iv.  p.  22. 



the  vacant  post.  Believing  that  Pitt  would  return 
again  to  power,  he  modestly  spoke  of  himself  as  a 
"  sort  of  locum  tenens"  To  the  Bishop  of  Wor- 
cester George  wrote  in  February  1801,  "An  un- 
fortunate resolution  implanted  in  the  mind  of  Mr. 
Pitt,  by  persons  in  no  way  friends  to  our  happy 
Church  and  State  establishment,  to  bring  in  a  Bill 
enabling  Dissenters  to  hold  offices  without  taking 
the  Test  Act,  and  repealing  the  law  of  30  Charles 
II.,  which  precludes  Papists  from  sitting  in  Parlia- 
ment, has  made  me  reluctantly  permit  him  to  retire 
from  my  service.  My  sense  of  my  Coronation  oath, 
of  the  compact  on  which  my  family  was  invited 
to  mount  the  throne,  and  the  Act  of  Union  with 
Scotland,  precluded  me  from  not  opposing  such 
an  opinion.  I  have  persuaded  Mr.  Addington  to 
succeed  Mr.  Pitt,  and  can  assure  you  his  attachment 
to  the  Church  is  as  sincere  as  mine,  and  you  may 
depend  on  his  equal  attachment  to  our  happy  civil 
constitution,  and  his  being  no  admirer  of  any  reforms 
or  supposed  improvements."1 

This  weighty  business,  it  was  soon  apparent,  had 
told  upon  the  mental  and  physical  health  of  the 
King.  On  the  15th,  Addington  found  his  royal 
master  suffering  from  a  severe  cold  and  scarcely 
able  to  speak.  Less  than  a  week  later  the  King 
was  in  such  a  high  fever  that  the  services  of  the 
younger  Dr.  Willis  were  demanded.  From  that 
date  until  the  3rd  March  the  King's  mind  was  under 
a  cloud.  One  of  his  first  coherent  remarks  was  to 
his  son  Frederick,  "  I  know  full  well  how  ill  I  have 

1  Bentley's  Miscellany,  vol.  xxvi.  p.  515. 


been.  I  have  presumed  a  great  deal  more  than  I 
ought  on  my  constitution.  Be  assured  I  shall  be 
more  careful  in  the  future." l 

Those  privileged  to  see  George  found  him  grown 
thinner  and  paler,  and  his  eyes  seemed  affected.  The 
loyal  jubilation  of  his  subjects  on  his  recovery  greatly 
touched  him.  He  trusted,  he  said,  "that  God 
would  prolong  his  life  in  order  that  he  might  prove 
to  his  people  how  deeply  grateful  he  was  for  their 

On  recovering  his  reason,  one  of  the  questions  the 
King  had  put  to  Dr.  Willis  was  whether  Pitt  had  been 
much  affected  by  the  sufferings  which  he  had  under- 
gone. "  Tell  him,"  said  the  King,  "  that  I  am  now 
quite  well — quite  recovered  from  my  illness.  But 
what  has  he  not  to  answer  for  who  is  the  cause  of 
my  having  been  ill  at  all  ? "  On  receiving  this  com- 
munication from  Dr.  Willis  Pitt  was  deeply  affected  ; 
he  pledged  himself  on  the  spot  never  again  to  intrude 
upon  the  King  a  question  fraught  with  such  afflict- 
ing consequences.  He  asked  Willis  whether  a 
formal  assurance  from  him  to  that  effect  might  not 
materially  conduce  to  the  restoration  of  his  sovereign's 
health.  "Certainly,"  replied  Willis,  "  and  to  the 
recovery  of  his  life  also."  Under  these  circumstances 
Pitt  not  only  authorised  Willis  to  assure  the  King 
that,  whether  in  or  out  of  office,  he  would  never 
again,  during  his  Majesty's  reign,  agitate  the  question 
of  Catholic  Emancipation,2  but  he  is  also  said  to  have 
addressed  to  him  a  "  most  dutiful,  humble,  and  con- 
trite "  letter,  in  which  he  gave  a  similar  guarantee  in 

1   Malmesbury's  Diaries,  vol.  iv.  p.  34.  2  Ibid. 




writing.1  Pitt's  assurance  caused  the  King  instant 
relief.  "  I  told  him,"  writes  Willis  to  Pitt,  "  what 
you  wished ;  and  after  saying  the  kindest  things  of 
you,  he  exclaimed,  '  Now  my  mind  will  be  at  ease.' 
Upon  the  Queen  coming  in,  the  first  thing  he  told 
her  was  your  message,  and  he  made  the  same  obser- 
vation upon  it." 

Having  by  his  action  been  released  of  his  promise 
to  the  Roman  Catholic  party  Pitt  might  now  have 
returned  to  office.  But  Addington  had  already 
tasted  power ;  he  was  by  no  means  convinced  that 
the  arguments  were  sufficiently  strong  for  him  so 
soon  to  give  up  his  official  seals  to  his  friend.  He 
declined  under  the  circumstances  to  advise  the  King 
to  send  for  Pitt.  Too  proud  was  Pitt  to  demand  the 
seals  again,  and  George,  grateful  for  Addington's 
having  rescued  him  at  a  critical  moment,  could  hardly 
be  expected  to  solicit  him  to  resign.  Besides,  Pitt 
had  promised  his  full  support  to  the  new  administra- 
tion. "  If,"  said  the  King,  "  we  three  do  but  keep 
together,  all  will  be  well." 

The  King  and  Pitt  parted  on  affectionate  terms, 
the  King  saying  that  "  it  is  a  struggle  between  duty 
and  affection,  and  duty  carries  it." 

"  The  parting  honour,"  says  Lord  Rosebery,  "  that 
he  awarded  his  Minister  is  notable.  He  knew  that 
it  was  of  no  use  to  offer  Pitt  money,  or  ribbons,  or 
titles,  so  he  began  a  letter  to  him  'My  dear  Pitt,' 
a  circumstance  which  throws  a  little  light  on  the 
character  of  both  men."2 

1  Stanhope's  Life  of  Pitt,  vol.  iii.  p.  303. 

2  Rosebery 's  Pitt,  p.  223. 


Pitt,  careless,  even  reckless,  in  money  matters, 
had  made  so  little  provision  for  himself,  that  he  was 
dogged  daily  by  his  creditors.  Learning  of  his  finan- 
cial embarrassments  George  authorised  Rose  to  offer 
Pitt  a  personal  gift  of  £30,000,  stipulating  that  the 
donor  should  be  anonymous.  "The  scheme,"  says 
Rose,  "  was  found  to  be  impracticable  without  a  com- 
munication with  Mr.  Pitt.  On  the  mention  of  it  to 
him,  he  was  actually  more  affected  than  I  recollect 
to  have  seen  him  on  any  occasion,  but  he  declined 
it,  though  with  the  deepest  sense  of  gratitude  possible. 
It  was  indeed  one  of  the  latest  circumstances  he 
mentioned  to  me,  with  considerable  emotion,  towards 
the  close  of  his  life." 1 

When  Pitt  died  Rose's  natural  desire  was  that 
his  royal  master's  generosity  should  be  made  known ; 
he  intimated  his  wish  to  the  King,  but  George  shrank 
from  the  idea.  He  would  not,  he  said,  "  on  any 
account  permit  his  name  to  be  used.  It  would 
bear  the  appearance  of  making  a  parade  of  his 
intentions."  2 

If  Loughborough  expected  to  retain  the  seals 
under  Addington,  he  was  doomed  to  disappointment. 
George  resolved  on  giving  them  to  Eldon.  "  I  was," 
said  Eldon  afterwards,  "  the  King's  Lord  Chancellor, 
and  not  the  Minister's."  When  Eldon  came  to  kiss 
hands  on  his  appointment,  George  drew  the  Great 
Seal  from  the  left  breast  of  his  greatcoat  and  handed 
it  to  him  with  the  playful  and  affectionate  remark, 
"  I  give  it  to  you  from  my  heart." 3  "  My  remem- 

1   Rose's  Diaries,  vol.  i.  p.  338.  2  Ibid.,  vol.  ii.  p.  21(1 

3  Twiss's  Life  of  Eldon,  vol.  i.  p.  368. 

2  i  497 


brances,"  added  the  King,  "  to  Lady  Eldon.  I  know 
how  much  I  owe  to  Lady  Eldon.  I  know  that  you 
would  have  made  yourself  a  country  curate,  and 
that  she  has  made  you  my  Lord  Chancellor."1  As 
a  salve  to  Loughborough,  he  was  created  Earl  of 

On  the  21st  May  we  find  Addington  writing  to 
Eldon  after  an  interview  with  the  King  at  Kew  : 
"  During  a  quiet  conversation  of  an  hour  and  a  half 
with  the  King,  there  was  not  a  sentiment,  a  word,  a 
look,  or  a  gesture  that  I  could  have  wished  different 
from  what  it  was.  And  yet  my  apprehensions,  I 
must  own  to  you,  predominate.  The  wheel  is  likely 
to  turn  with  an  increasing  velocity,  as  I  cannot  help 
fearing,  and  if  so,  it  will  very  soon  become  unmanage- 
able. God  grant  that  I  may  be  mistaken!  We 
have,  however,  done  our  best." 2 

It  seemed  by  the  end  of  the  month  as  if  the  King 
had  completely  recovered.  "After  a  most  tedious 
and  severe  illness,"  he  wrote  to  Bishop  Hurd,  "  from 
which,  by  the  interposition  of  Divine  Providence,  1 
have  most  wonderfully  escaped  the  jaws  of  death,  I 
find  myself  enabled  to  pursue  one  of  my  most  agree- 
able occupations,  that  of  writing  to  you,  who  have 
never  been  in  the  most  gloomy  moments  out  of  my 
thoughts.  I  can  now  assure  you  that  my  health  is 
daily  improving,  though  I  cannot  boast  of  the  same 
strength  and  spirits  I  enjoyed  before.  Still,  with 
quiet  and  sea  bathing  I  trust  they  will  soon  be  re- 
gained. Public  events  in  every  part  of  the  globe 


1  Life  of  Wilberforce,  vol.  iii.  p.  2. 

2  Twiss's  Life  of  Eldon,  vol.  i.  p.  3 


appear  more  favourable,  and  the  hand  of  Divine 
Providence  seems  stretched  forth  to  protect  this 
favoured  island,  which  alone  has  stood  forth  con- 
stantly in  opposition  to  our  wicked  neighbours.  I 
flatter  myself,  the  fact  of  having  a  Ministry  composed 
of  men  of  religion  and  great  probity  will  tend  to  the 
restoration  of  more  decorum.  Neither  my  advice  nor 
example  shall  be  wanted  to  effect  it." l 

But  the  favourable  symptoms  did  not  continue ; 
on  the  contrary,  a  relapse  began  to  be  foreshadowed. 
The  elder  Willis  was  consulted.  He  described  the 
King  to  Eldon  as  being  five  or  six  hours  on  horseback 
daily.  "  His  attendants  thought  him  much  hurried, 
and  so  think  his  pages.  He  has  a  great  thirst  upon 
him,  and  his  family  are  in  great  fear.  His  Majesty 
still  talks  much  of  his  prudence,